via Mugabe in climbdown over investors – DailyNews Live 11 August 2015 by Ndakaziva Majaka
HARARE – Government is open to negotiations with investors and has adopted a stance of respecting investor rights and sentiments, President Robert Mugabe said yesterday.
In an apparent climbdown from his usual rhetoric about investors taking advantage of the country’s resources, Mugabe told followers at the Heroes Day commemorations that his government was amenable to investors who wanted to inject capital into the investment-starved country.
“We are a country that observes and respects the rights of investors. We are prepared to listen to investor concerns and are in the process of managing the cost of doing business so that investors are comfortable to operate in this country,” Mugabe said. “Right now what we are working on is the employment of strategies to avoid drought and subsequent starvation.”
Zimbabwe has in the past been failing to attract enough Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) due to policy discord and very high doing business costs, according to market watchers.
However, according to the latest United National Conference on Trade and Development report, FDI into the country surged 36 percent to $545 million in 2014 from $400 million registered in 2013.
This comes as the investment-starved country is desperately trying to attract FDI and access international lines of credit.
But investors and financiers are wary of its policies, particularly the indigenisation law — compelling foreigners to cede majority shareholding to black locals.
Mugabe said the country was open to suggestions by investors on how to make it a more attractive investment destination, but was quick to point out that the most welcome suggestions were “investors from friendly countries”.
“Of course we want all investors to tell us what they think about us as an investment destination, however, we are especially keen to dialogue with investors from countries that are friendly to our struggle,” he said.
Government has been at the centre of intense criticism from various envoys in the country due to its flip-flopping nature where policies and rule of law were concerned, with most saying government was notorious for its blatant disrespect of property rights.
The country’s uncertain policy environment was recently cited as a hindrance to investment by the World Economic Forum released late last year.
In its Global Competitiveness Report for 2014-2015, the global think-tank expressed concern over the country’s policy environment arguing it needed urgent attention.
The World Bank has said that five years of investor-friendly policies in the mining sector alone could increase annual output by $5 billion.