President Emmerson Mnangagwa has clipped Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s wings by removing the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (ZIDA) Act from his ministry.
This comes amid fears that Mnangagwa is planning to move ZIDA to his office as part of efforts to consolidate power and ensure he has total control of the country’s key economic pillars. The President, using his special Presidential powers, recently created the controversial Mutapa Investment Fund which houses over 20 State enterprises and insulated it against public scrutiny.
In a statutory instrument 224 of 2023, Mnangagwa said that ZIDA Act was no longer under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
“The assignment of functions of Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion notice 2018 published in Statutory Instrument 197 of 2023 is amended by deletion of the following in the schedule thereto: Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency Act,” read the statutory instrument.
Under the Act, Ncube was responsible for promoting, planning and implementing investment promotion strategies for the purpose of encouraging investment by domestic and foreign investors.
He was in charge of promoting the decentralisation of investment activities and to implement and co-ordinate investment programmes.
The Finance minister was also in charge of facilitating entry and implementation of investment projects.
Mthuli was to work with interested stakeholders in using modern communications methods to promote Zimbabwe as an attractive investment destination and to facilitate, across all sectors of the economy, dialogue and other consultations between the public and private sectors to improve the investment climate for domestic and foreign investment.
He was also responsible for establishing and regulating Special Economic Zones, appraising and recommending for the approval of public private partnerships with the State to the Cabinet.
He was also to deliver investor aftercare services, including but not limited to post-establishment facilitation services that support investment retention and expansion.
Economic analyst Mike Vareta said the removal of the ZIDA Act will give Mnangagwa more power to strike the country’s deals in secrecy.
“The removal of the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency Act from the purview of the Finance Minister is a sign that the government is becoming more secretive and less transparent. This is a worrying development, as it will make it more difficult for investors to understand and navigate the Zimbabwean investment landscape,” he said.
“The government should focus on creating a more conducive environment for investment, rather than making it more difficult for businesses to operate. This includes improving the infrastructure, reducing corruption, and creating a level playing field for all businesses,” he added.
Political analyst Romeo Chasara said the removal of the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency Act from the purview of the Finance minister is a negative development that will make it more difficult for investors to operate in Zimbabwe.
“The government has claimed that this move is necessary to improve the efficiency of the investment promotion process. However, it is more likely that it is an attempt to further centralise power in the hands of the President. This will make it more difficult for the private sector to operate and will stifle economic growth,” he said.