THE Zimbabwean government’s ambition to re-engage with the West and promote the ease of doing business is off the rails looking at its performance on the political and economic front, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) has said.
The southern African nation has been trying to re-engage the West since 2017 but with little success.
Relations between the government and Western economies have deteriorated since 2000, leading to the European Union (EU) and the United States imposing economic sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe`s re-engagement thrust orbits around national and institutional reforms which also promote the ease of doing business. However, Zimcodd said the country’s ambition to re-engage with the Western powers and promote the ease of doing business is “off the rail.”
“Evidence suggests that Harare’s re-engagement drive has yielded to a fire-fighting approach at odds with its stated ambitions of achieving a middle-income society by 2030.
“The re-engagement drive is anchored on the reform thrust which became the gospel of the second republic since its emergence in 2018. Like a preacher who practises what he or she does not preach, the second republic has been found wanting on the reform thrust,” Zimcodd said.
“All the targets that the government had set for re-engagement in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) have not been met as both image building and re-engagement processes have failed to meet intended targets,” Zimcodd added.
The civil society organisation said there is a correlation between image management, re-engagement and the ease of doing business.
For example, it said threats by the government to constrain the space for civil society strongly signal to donors and development partners, its intentions to proceed on a path of authoritarianism, despotism and totalitarianism. Zimcodd added that the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Bill attests to the attempts by the government to shrink the civic space.
“Constraints on the existence of a free and robust civil society will likely intensify the lack of rule of law and broader weakening of democratic safeguards generally viewed as derailments to the ease of doing business and re-engagement which thrive on shared norms and standards.
“This situation is worsened by policy inconsistencies emanating from the vested interest of those close to the highest echelons of power,” Zimcodd said.
The organisation further said policy inconsistencies affect corporates optimal planning which is integral in business investment, thus, making Zimbabwe a high-risk investment destination.