HARARE – Switzerland is impressed by steps that Zimbabwe has taken so far to re-engage the global community and promises it has made to undertake economic reforms, but should follow through on promises to attract investors, an envoy said on Thursday.
Since the advent of the new administration in Zimbabwe, led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Harare has begun taking steps to re-integrate with the global community, following years of isolation.
President Mnangagwa has also been preaching the message that Zimbabwe was open for business while promising swift reforms to improve the investment climate.
The biggest change that the new government has made so far was scraping the indigenisation law, making it only applicable to platinum and diamond mining.
President Mnangagwa has also promised to organise a free, fair and credible election and to invite observers from the United Nations and European Union who previously were not allowed to observe past elections.
Outgoing Swiss ambassador to Zimbabwe Ruth Huber said Swiss President Alain Berset had also encouraged President Mnangagwa to implement the envisaged reforms when the two met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last month.
“The economic development of Zimbabwe goes hand in hand with democratic development, with good governance, so all these areas are important,” she said after bidding farewell to President Mnangagwa at his Munhumutapa offices.
“I have to say the messages we are receiving from His Excellency President Mnangagwa in all these areas, putting focus on economic development but also in governance areas, granting free, fair, credible and transparent elections are very positive and very welcome messages.”
Huber said Zimbabwe had massive potential to develop, mainly due to its highly skilled human resource base.
“I will also promote Zimbabwe as a country with potential due to the good skill level of people and I think also the willingness of the people to improve, to develop, that is a very good basis for investors to come,” she said.
She said there was need to resolve outstanding issues regarding Swiss nationals whose farms were compulsorily acquired during the land reform program.
The farms were acquired for re-distribution despite being protected under a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) between Zimbabwe and Switzerland.
Agreements under BIPPA require that the government pay fair compensation in currency of the former owner’s choice for both land and improvements.
“It is also important to resolve issues of the past and to really show that rule of law is guranted. Switzerland and Zimbabwe do have a valid BIPPA and there are still some issues with farmers who lost their land and assets and the compensation on this valid BIPPA is still an open issue, but we are having very good conversations with government about this and resolution of this will be a very important signal to future investors.”
Huber said she would also promote Zimbabwe as a favourable tourist destination. – New Ziana