Zimbabwe top brass roll out red carpet to new investors in bid to beat stubborn economic blues

Ministers turn on the charm to potential investors from its biggest trading partner on the continent as country looks to jumpstart growth.

MINISTERS who accompanied Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe during his recent state visit to South Africa have repeatedly given assurance to investors that the country’s existing bottlenecks would be fixed. 

Zimabbwe says it is prioritising upgrading its dilapidated roads, rail and air infrastructure.

In an exclusive interview with Mail & Guardian Africa, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mike Bimha, said upgrading such derelict infrastructure would boost the southern Africa’s investment opportunities.

“Presently, our government has embarked on roads upgrading nationwide, including the rail and air. The highway that needs quick attention and yet to be addressed is the Beitbridge – Harare Road. This is the gateway to almost all Southern African countries,” said Bimha.

The highway links Zimbabwe with South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Bimha said the country would soon invite new investors to take up business opportunities in mining, agriculture, processing, manufacturing, transport, infrastructure development and energy.

Zimbabwe’s roads are in poor state and are largely blamed for the significant loss of lives per year.

In another interview, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa admitted the country’s poor roads and rail network were in less-than-optimal state but urged prospective investors to explore investment opportunities.

“We (Zimbabwe) have lots of economic challenges, but if one looks at them with a positive mind, they are equally economic opportunities to investors. 

“We are here to say to our South African brothers, sisters, local and international companies, seize these opportunities for your business expansion or growth. Zimbabwe is welcoming you to start business in a peaceful, conducive and environmental friendly atmosphere,” Chinamasa said.

He urged investors to look into existing opportunities, especially in the areas of power generation, water reservoirs or dam construction, roads upgrading, infrastructural development as well as health.

Meanwhile, in another interview with Mail & Guardian Africa, Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi assured prospective South African investors of peaceful environment prevailing in the neighbouring country.

He said the security agencies always ensured peace and harmony in the country.

“We have tight security to ensure that peace and harmony prevail in the country. My message to the investors is, ‘do not much worry yourselves in terms of stability, I believe the entire world knows we have relatively peace prevailing in the country than in any other region’,” Mohadi said.

The ministers accompanied Mugabe who was on a three-day state visit in neighbouring South Africa.

Despite economic meltdown worsened by sanctions imposed by the West, Zimbabwe remains South Africa’s top trading partner in Africa. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by South African entities in Zimbabwe between 2003 and 2013 amounted to approximately R12.8 billion rand and creating more than 2,400 employment opportunities.

South African companies that have invested in Zimbabwe include Nedbank, Impala Platinum, Standard Bank, Old Mutual and Tongaat-Hullet amongst many others. 

There is also a significant population, officially numbering more than 200 000 but estimated at more than 2 million, of Zimbabweans that are working in South Africa. 

Remittances from these are also seen a s crucial in the southern African country’s cash-generating prospects

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