THE United States has commended Zimbabwe’s swift response to Covid-19 and hailed the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), which seeks to have a private sector-led economic growth.
Though relations between the two countries have been frosty over the years due to the unilateral imposition of economic sanctions by the US on Zimbabwe, the Second Republic has made it clear that it is an enemy to none as it pursues engagement and re-engagement.
Under President Mnangagwa’s “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra and his economic reforms that are also outlined in NDS1, the world has started to take a keen interest in investing in the country.
And after meeting with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Fredrick Shava at his Munhumutapa Offices in Harare yesterday, outgoing US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Brian Nichols said there were several investment opportunities in the country.
“Zimbabwe has had important progress in key areas like vaccination, its number three on the continent in terms of Covod-19 vaccines. Our Government have offered vaccines through the Covax consortium to the Government of Zimbabwe for its people. We hope that the Government accepts that donation and we intend to offer more in the future if they are accepted,” said the US Ambassador.
So far, through different commercial facilities, Zimbabwe has secured vaccines that might be enough to inoculate at least 60 percent of the country’s population for free and achieve herd immunity a status that would result in the reopening of the economy to full throttle.
The latest validation of the country’s campaign by the US Government adds on many foreign endorsements on Zimbabwe’s response to the pandemic, including from the WHO, Australia, South African, and a host of others.
Vaccines being administered locally are subjected to thorough tests by local scientists and those like Sinopharm and Sinovac were also given emergency use authorisation by WHO.
Ambassador Nichols, who is set to become an Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs under President Biden’s administration, encouraged continuous engagement between the two countries.
With Zimbabwe’s envoy to the US Ambassador Tadeous Chifamba making efforts to reach out to the President Joe Biden’s US administration, Mr Nichols said dialogue was the best way forward.
“I think it is important for diplomats to have free access and engage with whoever they wish to. So I am certainly supportive of that, and similarly I hope that my successor and my embassy will enjoy free access to Zimbabwe’s political actors, to be able to talk about issues in our relationship in an effort to understand each other better and to support democracy, prosperity, and reforms in Zimbabwe,” said Ambassador Nichols.
In the meeting with Ambassador Shava, the outgoing diplomat said they also discussed the two nations’ mutual desire to have better relations.
Asked if he would encourage foreign investments into Zimbabwe, the outgoing US Ambassador said the investment climate is encouraging.
“There are a number of opportunities for investment in Zimbabwe and we have encouraged that through trade missions like we have a virtual trade mission, I think there are a lot of opportunities for investment here and I hope that will happen.
“I think the private sector plays a vital role in promoting free markets, democracy, middle-class jobs, and incomes that build successful nations so I am a big supporter of private investment around the world.”
Zimbabwe is pushing for a private sector led growth through the National Development Strategy 1, which is expected to play a key role in taking the country to an upper middle income society by 2030.
On his part, Minister Shava said Zimbabwe is grateful to America for the various assistance it has extended to the country and also underscored the need to have illegal sanctions removed.
“I thanked him for the various assistance that the American Government has offered to Zimbabwe. In addition to that, I told the Ambassador that the two albatrosses that remain between the United States and Zimbabwe are the President’s executive orders in his country and ZIDERA,” said Minister Shava.
“The ZIDERA ensures that the Americans vote against Zimbabwe at international financial institutions like IMF and the World Bank among others. So I was saying this should be a thing of the past, that we should move towards new areas of cooperation. I acknowledged some positives he has done.”
“He has been mentioning in some forums the importance of American investors coming to Zimbabwe to look for businesses to do, and I thought this was a good thing to encourage some American companies to do business here,” said Minister Shava.