BY KUDZAI KUWAZA
CALLS for government to get serious with its re-engagement drive have intensified, with industrialists and economists reminding President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to avoid building ties with undemocratic regimes and those at odds with western powers.
Speaking during a meeting convened by CEO Africa Roundtable to map out a way forward for 2022, industrialists said such a strategy would be suicidal.
Relations between government and western economies have deteriorated since 2000, leading to the European Union and the United States of America imposing sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Two decades after the embargo came into force, Zimbabwe is in the throes of an economic implosion, with a volatile exchange rate, steep basic commodity prices increases, foreign currency shortages and hyperinflation.
Top bankers and Zimbabwe Economic Society president Nigel Chanakira told the meeting that re-engagement was vital if Harare was to turn the tide.
“My absolute conviction is that the re-engagement process will see us get to single digit inflation,” Chanakira said, adding that reintegration would enable Zimbabwe to improve competitiveness.
Prominent economist Tony Hawkins said successful re-engagement with western powers would go a long way in solving the country’s economic crisis.
“We simply have to have successful international re-engagement, which is why I made the reference to having close allies with people who are hostile to the people we want to re-engage,” he said.
Hawkins said it was counterproductive for the country to focus its engagement process with countries that were in confrontation with the western powers.
Giving an example, the economist said Russia was currently involved in a standoff with western countries over Ukraine.
Russia is one of Zimbabwe strongest allies.
There has been a significant rise in tensions between the United States and China, Zimbabwe’s biggest global ally, over Taiwan.
However, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya said only Zimbabweans can provide solutions to the meltdown.
“You know I was championing the re engagement process in 2015 when we went to Lima (Peru). We came up with a very good reengagement process. But you know what, it ended up being a mirage.
“We put all our effort and then realised that we are by ourselves as Zimbabweans,” he said.
Mangudya was referring to the Lima plan, which saw Zimbabwe engaging creditors during the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund spring meetings in Lima.
The plan was to settle US$1,8 billion in arrears to preferred international financial institutions for Zimbabwe to access US$2 billion in fresh funding.
Industry minister Sekai Nzenza told captains of industry at the meeting that the notion that Mnangagwa has squandered the goodwill he enjoyed when he came into power in 2017 was inaccurate.
“I don’t know where this perception comes from that we might have squandered the opportunity to re-engage. We haven’t and I can give you facts. Last year we made a lot of investment meetings from Russia, Turkey and Dubai. What is missing is the positive story that needs to be told and unfortunately the negative story is coming from those who live in Zimbabwe who know the positive story but are not telling it to the outside world,” she said.