PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has asked business to bid it’s time as Zimbabwe aligns its laws with policy pronouncements that his Government has made since coming into power in November. The President was addressing a business forum held as a build-up to the World Economic Forum annual meetings to be held in Davos, Switzerland. In his inaugural speech, President Mnangagwa made a number of policy pronouncements as a way of attracting investment aimed at kick-starting the country’s economy.
His pronouncements were followed up by Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa’s 2018 National Budget Statement which scrapped the 51-49 percent indigenisation laws in all sectors of the economy serve for the diamond and platinum sectors. While the pronouncements have been warmly received, there have been concerns from business that the country’s legislation is yet to change.
President Mnangagwa, however, explained that the standard procedure is that Government pronounces policy direction that cannot be reflected in legislation overnight as aligning of laws takes its own processes. The process of aligning the policy pronouncements with law is already underway.
“It doesn’t matter where you are. The first thing to happen is the pronouncement of a policy and then the articulation or translating that policy into a legal framework and that process is going on. So you cannot say because the process has not completed, so there is a disconnect between policy and legislation, no,” he said.
The President said he is aware that the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, for example, has previously caused problems with members of the then Cabinet providing different interpretations to the same Act.
With the new provisions, as announced by Minister Chinamasa in his 2018 National Budget Statement, the President said he has no doubt the same will soon be reflected in the Act and the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is already seized with the process of aligning the Act to the new policy thrust.
The President also used the same event to officially launch the Investment Guidelines and Opportunities in Zimbabwe, which will inform his engagements with investors at the World Economic Forum. The guideline highlights the Mining, Manufacturing, Agriculture, Tourism, and Infrastructure Sectors as some of the priority areas of investment.
The guidelines also lists a number of the country’s unique selling points to potential investors among them resource endowment with over 55 exploitable important minerals or materials, a strong human capital base with the highest literacy rate in Africa as noted by the African Economist in 2015.
Also on the selling points is the use of a multicurrency system, which insulates the country from exchange rate risks, freely remittable dividends for investors and pro-market policies that Government is implementing. The guidelines also guarantees security of investment and its commitment to honouring international investment protection agreements.
“Zimbabwe guarantees investment security to all investors in line with international best practices. To this end, Zimbabwe is a signatory to a number of bi-lateral and international agreements,” reads the guidelines.
Speaking at another event later in the afternoon in Harare, President Mnagagwa said the Davos trip is an opportunity for his Government to mend relations with the world and market the country as a competitive investment destination.
“Yes I have heard about Davos in the past, I understand this is a place where world leaders assemble where the best brains in industry and commerce assemble, leaders of nations and think tanks of nations go and assemble there and exchange views. ….of course where else would one want to be?” President Mnangagwa said.
He said Zimbabwe is now a new country with a different attitude. “I am an amateur so I am going there to learn and to talk about my country. It is open for business and this is what we have for the future…, that we want to relate, to guarantee those who can come and have business here that Zimbabwe will honour our part of obligations in relation to business.
“That Zimbabwe has transformed. Zimbabwe e want to be part of you, even those who have been against us in the past we are saying to them is there anything you would want us to do in order for you to move away from being hostile to being friendly? We are already friendly to you even if you are hostile so why should you be hostile?”