“For instance (road) infrastructure is old but it is there. It is about repairing potholes which is much better than having to establish a new network. The railway system is very old (though) with investment you could upscale what you have got there.
“But there are a lot of other positives that the economy has. Peace and security is a key one. Crime rates are extremely low for the region and even (compared to) some countries in the EU.”
Peter Steyl, President of the Commercial Farmers’ Union of Zimbabwe, has been encouraged by Mnangagwa’s offer of compensation to white farmers – currently being calculated – and plans to reintegrate them into the Zimbabwean agricultural sector, the backbone of the economy.
“For every job created on the farms, at least seven jobs are created in the value chain,” he said.
While it was early days, he said the message he is getting is “that farming will be down to people who can farm and that (land) won’t be handed out on a patronage or colour basis. I do see a more integrated agricultural system going forward ”.
Arguably the biggest reform introduced so far is the partial repeal of the indigenisation law. The law required foreign investors to cede majority control of their investments to Zimbabweans, but will now only apply to the diamond and platinum mining sectors.
“We never want to see (such legislation) again in our economy,” said Nyoni, pointing out that it “scared away” investors and was used by Mugabe to enable “his cronies to own companies corruptly”.
Nyoni said Mnangagwa has spoken of the need to improve the ease of doing business in the country and has tasked ministers to identify other pieces of legislation that are causing companies problems.
“Ministers have been consulting us on what it is we want to see changed in the context of business. We are struggling as we speak. We are even unable to pay for imported raw materials because of the lack of foreign currency.”
Liquidity he says will only begin to improve once the economy shows signs of recovery and the country receives lines of credit and foreign direct investment.
Overseas investors are likely to hold off until they see evidence that Mnangagwa can stabilise the economy, but diaspora Zimbabweans are already keen to seize opportunities, recently proposing to invest $800 million in several sectors.
Anele Ndlovu, President of the Zimbabwe-South Africa Forum, which represents Zimbabwean exiles, said his members are already looking for foreign partners and are “gunning for big things” in the mining, energy and infrastructure sectors as well as targeting stakes in public enterprises.
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