Resolve dispute with Swiss investors: Envoy

Zimbabwe has to resolve its dispute with Swiss farmers, who lost their land under the fast-track land reform exercise, as well as undertaking reforms to create an attractive investment climate, an envoy has said.

Source: Resolve dispute with Swiss investors: Envoy – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 10, 2017


Speaking at the signing of an international co-operation agreement between Zimbabwe and Switzerland, Swiss ambassador to Zimbabwe and Malawi, Ruth Huber told Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, that, while she was happy to support Swiss companies to invest in the country, the dispute with farmers had to be resolved.

The agreement, which was signed yesterday is on humanitarian aid and technical and financial co-operation.

“To increase the confidence of potential investors, it would, of course, be very helpful if the government would solve the pending issue with Swiss investors, especially farmers, who have lost their property by recognising this outstanding debt,” Huber said.

Three Swiss farmers lost their land during the land reform programme. Huber said the economy has to undertake reforms to attract investment.

“It requires ensuring stable framework conditions, where rule of law and property rights are assured and investment conditions clearly established in law. It requires fiscal measures, reducing wage cost and increasing revenues in order to make funds available for maintaining functioning health and education systems,” Huber said.

She said sustainable economic reforms were closely linked to governance reforms, which include “the full alignment of laws with the Constitution, the respect of human rights and democratic principles”.

The respect for human rights and democratic principles, Huber said, were enshrined in the agreement signed yesterday and crucial elements of the Swiss foreign policy, which guides the dialogue between Harare and Bern.

Chinamasa told Huber that the Lands and Rural Resettlement ministry was undertaking evaluation of improvements on the farms so that former farmers are compensated. He said farmers, who lost their land, which is protected by Bippas would get compensation for land and improvements. Chinamasa said fiscal reforms were a process and not an event. He said Cabinet agreed on a raft of measures to rationalise the wage bill.

“We are targeting to reduce the proportion of expenditure from 90% to 55% by 2019. I am confident we will achieve it.” He said there were two avenues to contain the wage bill: rationalisation or growing the cake.

Three Swiss firms — Nestle, Bata and Lafarge — are operating in Zimbabwe.