Mixed Reviews For Zimbabwe Investment Conference

Zimbabwe Investment

Zimbabwe Investment

A two-day inter­na­tional invest­ment con­fer­ence ended in Harare Fri­day with some poten­tial investors say­ing that now have a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the invest­ment envi­ron­ment in Zim­babwe. But oth­ers say the coun­try is still a risky invest­ment des­ti­na­tion because of the polit­i­cal envi­ron­ment. Over the two days meet­ing con­fer­ence atten­dees heard how Zim­babwe needs mas­sive invest­ment to get its econ­omy work­ing again. Invest­ment and gov­ern­ment offi­cials were at pains to sell the idea that Zim­babwe is open for busi­ness. Not every­one was con­vinced it is a safe place to invest their money.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a large South African invest­ment bank who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity told VOA some investors will have prob­lems invest­ing in Zim­babwe as long as senior offi­cials from Pres­i­dent Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party remain in pow­er­ful gov­ern­ment posi­tions.

“I think one has to be absolutely blunt and accept the fact that while there are some key peo­ple from the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, from ZANU-PF, that are in crit­i­cal posi­tions in the unity gov­ern­ment the invest­ment is not going to come,” the investor said.

He also noted that Zim­babwe has a poor credit rat­ing and that makes investors wary.

A com­pa­triot of his how­ever sees things dif­fer­ently. Praveen Dwarika, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of agri­cul­tural ser­vices com­pany AFGRI, said there seems to be unity of pur­pose at the high­est level in the Zim­bab­wean gov­ern­ment. That, he said, is encour­ag­ing.

“See­ing the pres­i­dent, prime min­is­ter and deputy prime min­is­ter at one forum almost speak­ing with one voice gives us a lot more com­fort. We are pos­i­tive about what we have heard so far,” Dwarika said.

Dwakira added that the pre­sen­ta­tions at the con­fer­ence helped clar­ify a lot of ques­tions his com­pany had about invest­ing in Zim­babwe. How­ever he said his com­pany, while eager to invest in Zim­babwe, is not about to take the plunge. He said there are legal aspects that needed to be looked into before that hap­pens.

Both investors agreed that Zim­babwe is very com­pet­i­tive and there is great poten­tial here.

Finance Min­is­ter Tendai Biti said that while every­thing is in place for invest­ment in Zim­babwe the polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion remains unsta­ble.

“There is a deficit of per­for­mance and exe­cu­tion in regard to those things that do not cost money that are well within our reach but that have got major fun­da­men­tal trac­tion,” Biti said. “I am refer­ring here to the slow pace of progress in the democ­ra­ti­za­tion of our coun­try. For instance issues around media reform, issues around reform of our leg­is­la­tion, Pub­lic Order Secu­rity Act and so forth.”

Observers believe that for Zim­babwe to attract the invest­ment it badly needs to rebuild its bro­ken econ­omy, the gov­ern­ment needs to show the change it pur­ports to rep­re­sent. Con­fer­ence pre­sen­ta­tions alone, they say, if not fol­lowed by clear change, will not suf­fice.

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