The ease of doing business in Zimbabwe conference: What Vice-President Mnangagwa will tell the diaspora

Zimbabwe Digital News

Zimbabweans living in South Africa will this week press Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to address issues of trust – or lack thereoff – between government departments and citizens in the diaspora, and discuss issues of bad public perceptions.

Zimbabwe – currently battling acute cash shortages – is hoping that interventions by politicians and foreign missions, businesspeople, bankers, investors and traders will establish formal, low-cost, and secure channels for remittances and social security benefits among other matters, thereby encouraging investment and contributing to poverty reduction.

This hopefully will double the $1 billion that was remitted into Zimbabwe last year through official channels. But trust levels between President Robert Mugabe’s government and citizens is running low, especially among many in the diaspora who believe that bureaucracy and officialdom are a huge stumbling block in doing business in Zimbabwe, and this manifested in a number of ways.

“We can all point to examples of slow decision-making, and we all know how difficult it is to conduct business in a depressed economy like Zimbabwe, and to obtain permits,” President of the Zim-SA forum, Anele Ndlovu said at a recent symposium between Zimbabweans in South Africa, and a government delegation.

“My organisation (Zim-SA Forum) has already formed consortiums with Zimbabweans who are experts in various fields who want to get involved in areas like construction and development projects in Zimbabwe, as well as investments. But it is frustrating to see that our own people, highly qualified people in these areas, are excluded from bulk projects, in favour of foreign companies, Chinese companies or other foreign organisations. Road and infrastructure construction is one example.”

“What Zimbabwe needs is to create an enabling environment and an accommodating environment.
He added that Zimbabweans generally, and those in the diaspora in particular were very interested in contributing to the re-development of the country, but at the same time they were very suspicious and sceptical, as many of the members in the Zim-SA Forum had raised issues of security of investment, issues of corruption, bureaucracy, controls, decision making and waste of resources.

This week Mr Ndlovu released a press statement with plans of Vice President Mnangagwa’s itinerary, saying the VP’s delegation would include Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa, Governor of the Reserve Bank Godwin Mangudya, Minister of Macro Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Obert Mpofu, Minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha, Minister of Small and Medium Enterprise Development Sithembiso Nyoni and Minister of Mines and Mining Development Walter Chidhakwa.


Twelve Point agenda

The Zim-SA Forum listed in the press statement a 12-point draft that will be central to VP Mnangagwa’s presentation to Zimbabwe’s SA diaspora contingent which will trace the economic situation of Zimbabwe from 2009, saying that:

1: The country was experiencing hyperinflation that breached 500 billion percent.
2: Liquidity shortage was the order of the day
3: Company closures, liquidations and retrenchments were common.
4: The country’s GDP had shrunk to negative growth levels
5: Unemployment was unofficially estimated at above 80 per cent.
6: The country experienced mass exodus of professionals to the diaspora
7: Foreign direct investment diminished to decimal levels
8: The country’s currency the Zim$ was demonitised and ceased to exist
9: Systemic risk and financial strife compromised the strengths of banks
10: Perennial droughts and the land reform process destabilised agriculture
11: Tourism suffered as misperceptions of political risk led to reduced tourist arrivals.
12: These conditions invariably caused political instability and anxiety

Pursuant to the adoption of the multicurrency system in February 2009, the economic pendulum began to swing in a direction that favoured the economic fortunes of Zimbabwe.

In that vein VP Mnangagwa will be expected to lead discussions on how:

1: The multi-currency system has stabilised Zimbabwe’s economic circumstance. Discussion.
2: Zimbabwe’s low inflation rate in the world at zero percent? The current situation with inflation.
3: Hitherto Zimbabwe had over 500 billion percent inflation. Its reduction to zero percent is an economic miracle?Discussion.
4: The introduction of the bond note was purely for easing liquidity challenges. On the contrary cash shortages have reached acute levels on the ground. Discussion.
5: The bond note does not seek to displace the multi-currency system. On the contrary it seeks to buttress and reinforce the system? Details of the multi-currency system. Discussion.
6: Zimbabweans can shift from one currency to another within the multi-currency basket, hence minimal currency risk of depreciation. Discussion.
7: The shops are full with regional departmental stores operating in Zimbabwe? Is this good for local manufacturing? Discussion.
8: Political upheavals and financial strife have diminished. How true is this? Discussion.
9: The GDP growth seems sustained albeit at lower levels than desired. Discussion.
10: Technically, there are no foreign exchange controls in Zimbabwe. Discussion.
11: Tourism has grown given the fact that previously perceived risks proved to be futile. Discussion.
12: Agriculture has improved and with good rains, a bumper harvest is anticipated. Discussion.

Against the backdrop of the foregoing, the Zim-SA investment conference seeks to amplify the fact that Zimbabwe is now open for business and also provide information on the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe, Ndlovu said.

He added: “Zimbabwe is generally a victim of misperceptions out there. The conference will provide a platform where potential investors can hear directly from the proverbial horse’s mouth about what it means to invest in Zimbabwe. Key stakeholders have been invited to come and directly address the concerns of potential investors.

“This is an opportunity therefore for the investment community, diaspora community, and those whose companies wishing to expand into Zimbabwe to come and ask questions related to their concerns and areas where they do not have clarity,” Ndlovu said.

The Zim-SA Investment Conference will be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel on June 23 and 24: under the theme: The Ease of Doing Business in Zimbabwe.

South Africa’s deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected at the conference, as is Home Affairs Minister Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, Small and Medium Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu and other senior SA government officials.



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