ED MEANS BUSINESS AND ZIMBABWE IS ON THE PATH TO RECOVERY
By Dr Masimba Mavaza| Six months ago, the Zimbabwean people with the military keeping peace, intervened to replace Robert Mugabe – the country’s long-time leader – with the former vice-president, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The opposition had peddled the propaganda that Mnangagwa is the old wine in the new container. Looking at the short relay Zimbabwe ran from November 2017 when Mnangagwa was inaugurated to date a lot of things have taken place. The achievements which Mnangagwa has presided over are un-believable. The first thing he did he opened the country to business.
People across the political spectrum, believe that the ‘more of the same’ narrative is too simplistic to capture what has really happened in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is now alive with optimism about the prospects of badly needed economic reforms and re-engagement with western donors after elections that are expected to take place in July. Zimbabweans from across the political divide – even long-time Zanu-PF antagonists – indicated their willingness to give the new president a chance to turn the country’s economic fortunes around. And investors, already flocking to the country in search of opportunities at bargain prices, are keen to enter the market; the former enemies have turned into friends and are effectively seeking partnership with Zimbabwe in investing and moving the country upwards.
Zimbabwe is now out of the woods thanks to brave stand the President took in repealing laws which affected development and allowing freedom of expression. The election preparations so far have shown that the new government is committed to legitimising its rule at the ballot box in a free and credible fashion. The MDC Alliance has ventured into areas which were no go arears and Chamisa had been allowed to mislead the electorate at will. This is not because ED is a weak person, but it is because ED has brought in a new dispensation and is committed to free and fair elections and to the respect of the Rule of Law. Politically motivated arrests are now the thing of the past and ED has shown that any he can transform the party to a pro democratic outfit. Western governments have strongly and rightly signalled that there will be no significant re-engagement until this happens and in this way the re engagement has started, Zimbabwe has received high profile ministers from UK through ED’s diplomatic offensive UK has given Zimbabwe ONE HUNDRED MILLION to boost our economy. This shows the great shift and trust and confidence we now as a country command. In addition, the government has made mountains of economic reforms. This has restored investor confidence and really getting the economy moving. The degree to which business people, politicians and external investors are confident that these steps has happen is striking, particularly for a country that has seen little optimism in the past two decades.
ED’s statements were not just a matter of wishful thinking or blind utterances of the government’s reformist rhetoric, although its promises of economic reform – in some cases radical – are certainly welcomed by the business community. The talk of change and the real change Zimbabwe has experienced in six months is indeed impressive, and in some cases quite radical. With ED in the office Zimbabwe will be Dubai of Africa. The ideas ED was banding about are structurally significant: special economic zones, low taxes for early entrants, a true one-stop shop for international investors, and many others. On top of that, there are promises from all quarters that property rights and the rule of law would be respected in regard to both local and foreign investment. There is a willing acknowledgement that the government had built up trust, given events of the past 20 years.
Words are good; deeds are better ED has gone beyond words, he has performed. And on this front, the government has already taken several steps to show investors and the Zimbabwean people more broadly those things have changed. The streets of Harare have been disinfected of the police who brought in UN abetted corruption. It should be noted that immediately after Mnangagwa took over, the police were ordered to stand down. Such a move was hardly radical or controversial, but it was tangible proof that the government was taking steps to differentiate itself from its predecessor.
The government is also making moves to institute fiscal discipline and institute reforms to improve the investor climate. Since November, the government has: made changes to the Indigenisation Act that now leaves only platinum and diamond mining subject to 51% stakes being reserved for Zimbabweans. Revised the terms of 99-year leases to do away with provisions that allowed the government to push leaseholders off the land with 90 days’ notice, a move to make them bankable and transferable; and fired 500 civil servants without correct qualifications, while announcing the mandatory retirement of civil servants over 65.
Obviously there is much more to do, but in six months, these are impressive accomplishments. Also, beyond policy reforms, you can see how the business environment has improved. Long-contested tax penalties are being settled. Civil servants, under pressure from the top, are now answering phones and dealing with outstanding issues. And local businessmen and international investors alike are getting access to ministers, and even the president, to air their grievances – and in several instances getting changes they asked for. Put together, both words and deeds are fuelling the optimism so rampant on the ground.
: “It does not matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” Mnangagwa is a pragmatist at heart. Given the still perilous state of Zimbabwe’s economy, he knows that an investor-friendly environment is the only path to meaningful growth.
A diplomat had this to say about Zimbabwe “So what does this all mean for investors? We have worked on Zimbabwean political issues for several years, both as analysts and diplomats. The changes we saw in Zimbabwe truly were astounding compared to past years. The mood was different; people were legitimately upbeat. Government ministers and bureaucrats who would not give Westerners the time of day six months ago were going out of their way to speak to anyone even hinting at investment opportunities. As noted earlier, both rhetoric and action were moving in a positive direction. Optimism, therefore, is justified.
Zimbabwe, however, does not have a great track record of keeping its promises in recent years. Assurances to protect property rights are one thing, but following through on them is quite another.”
The world now sees Zimbabwe as the proper place to invest in.
We will not say much about the MDC alliance, Zimbabweans must remember that MDC alliance is an alliance which just want to be in power. They actually admitted that they joined in the restore legacy with the hope of being called into a unity government. When that failed they started crying for sanctions against the dispensation. Zimbabweans must reject these economic terrorists who lie to us and hold us at ransom.
ED has shown his bravery and that he is a man of his word. Corruption is being dealt with and as much as the justice system is so slow very soon we will see the prosecutions of many corrupt people.
We must put our trust in ED.
#ED MUST HAVE YOUR VOTE