Zimbabwe must be open for business but not to abuse


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One wonders what the result would be in Zimbabwe, where desperation has seen Zimbabwe willing to hand over large swathes of mineral concessions to the first would-be investor that came bearing lofty promises.

Mugabe’s indigenisation law was foolhardy, a route for cronies to collect fees. Mnangagwa has done the right thing and virtually done away with it. However, he has not replaced it with a fresh law that would both guarantee security of investment while allowing local communities to benefit more.

Zimbabwe should not auction off its family jewels, out of desperation to be seen as investor friendly. The investor handbook carried by the Zimbabwe delegation to Davos offers too little detail. What we need is a comprehensive, new investment policy that shows what we want from investors and how we want to deal with them.

The Davos delegation itself was heavy on politicians and hangers-on, reportedly resulting in disharmony in the team. This needs to end.

In Davos, US commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was asked if he would be ready to “show leadership” and go easy on America’s tough “America First” trade policy. He replied: “We don’t intend to abrogate leadership, but leading is different from being a sucker.”

Investors are after profit, not charity. To tell the difference between exploitation and mutual benefit, Mnangagwa needs competent teams and a strong policy to engage them.

He cannot achieve much using these blunt tools that he inherited, which is why he was roundly criticised for sticking to old horses in his Cabinet. It is time Mnangagwa shook up his own office, modernised the top civil service and made it more alert to the new “open for business” thrust that he is trying to push.

Mnangagwa famously kept one eye open while his political opponents circled around him. He needs to welcome these prospective new friends, but with that same side-eye.- The Source

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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