Zimbabwe is not yet open for business

Take Dubai as an example, seeking to create a diversified economy not reliant on oil revenues, the city started reinventing itself from the mid-1990s as a tourism, real estate and financial services hub, that attracted leading businesses and qualified expats from all over the world.

Now, the territory has cast a new vision for its future premised on Artificial Intelligence, Science and Technology, and is set to launch a probe mission to Mars by 2020. Dubai`s vision is clear, and it will no doubt attract focused investments that will help it attain its goals. At present, the same cannot be said of Zimbabwe unfortunately.

Chris Griffiths, CEO of Anglo American Platinum recently said to Zimbabwe`s Mines minister, Winston Chitando, “You think I will bring half a billion dollars to Zimbabwe when you guys keep chopping and changing the rules? There is no way I will do that.” Zimbabwe is just not yet open for business!

Citing a Mauritius Investment Attache, a Mr Maheswa Oodit, The Herald recently had a story of how Zimbabwe is now Africa’s most favoured investment destination, only second to South Africa. Interestingly, this assertion is primarily based on the number of investment inquiries. Unfortunately, investment inquiries and investment commitments do not measure up to anything in the real world. The sure and clearest indication that a country is a sought after investment destination, is in the actual investments made in the country.

Who will forget how The Herald boisterously cheered Aliko Dangote`s visit to the country in 2015, as the start of what is known in the state newspaper`s parlance, as “mega deals.” And to this day, nothing concrete has come out of Mr Dangote`s visit.

The $3 billion in investment commitments that is being counted as one of the successes of President Mnangagwa`s first 100 days in office, unfortunately does not count for much, until these are translated into actual capital flows. And this brings us back to the first lie that Zimbabweans desperately want to believe as true – “Zimbabwe is open for business.”

Capital is colour blind, has no sympathy, and is self-serving, typically seeking the path of least resistance. It is not going to come simply because Zimbabwe has had a change in personnel or out of sentimentalism. So long as the underlying issues that turned it off in the first place are existent, then it will not be inclined to come to our shores. These issues include endemic corruption, choppy and inconsistent government policy, absence of a lucid national vision and development plan that everyone can rally behind.

To my mind therefore, regardless of how these untruths are constantly shoved down our throats, it doesn`t make them any more palatable. Zimbabwe is not yet open for business because there are serious issues we have not yet resolved, and secondly, Zimbabwe is definitely not the most sought after investment destination!


By Perry Munzwembiri for The Source



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