Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has portrayed Zimbabwe as welcoming investors from around the world, highlighting that his administration was re-integrating white commercial farmers to boost agricultural productivity and insisting that there would be no immunity for members of the previous administration headed by Robert Mugabe.
This was the gist of Mnangagwa’s 30-minute insight interview at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos yesterday.
Zimbabwe – which can expect economic growth of 1percent this year, according to the African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund – is desperate for international capital and is banking on the international charm offensive by Mnangagwa’s administration to woo investors back to the country.
State media reported ahead of Mnangagwa’s address that executives of global companies said they were keen to engage in discussions with Zimbabwe’s delegation in Davos, raising hopes that the international community may be warming up to Mugabe’s departure, although business reforms and the fiscal deficit remain sticking points.
“We are saying to the world that Zimbabwe is now open for business. (The country) has lagged behind in many areas as a result of isolation over the past 16 years,” Mnangagwa said.
In line with this, Zimbabwe was partially abolishing its indigenisation policy, which prevented foreign investors from owning more than 49 percent of domestic companies. Only in the diamond and platinum mining sectors were investors expected to give black Zimbabweans a 51 percent shareholding.
Asked when he should be judged, Mnangagwa said mistakes should be pointed out to him every day as he tries to transform Zimbabwe’s economy.
NKC African Economics analyst Gary van Staden said yesterday that the opportunities stemming from Mnangagwa’s presence at Davos had to be matched by action.
“It is apparent that Davos and the opportunities such a gathering presents will provide Zimbabwe with a platform it has shunned for two decades and, generally, its presence will be widely welcomed. But the mantra may be ‘action speaks louder than words’, and the Mnangagwa administration faces its first real test when elections fall due later this year,” Van Staden said.
The country’s land reform programme in 2000 resulted in a major fall-out with international financiers and world leaders. Zimbabwe’s agricultural output nose-dived after white farmers were violently removed from their land without compensation. Mnangagwa addressed this issue in the full glare of the international community, saying the government was integrating former commercial farmers where they would have agreed to have their farms resized to pave the way for new black farmers.
Previously he had said the government was seeking to compensate white farmers who had lost their land, although the take-over of farms would not be reversed.