via Lets also look West – DailyNews Live by Staff reporter 16 SEPTEMBER 2013
Newly-appointed Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has a daunting task of wooing investors to Zimbabwe.
As long as we have a policy of frowning at their expectations, it will be a mammoth task to convince investors.
On Wednesday, Chinamasa took oath of office and immediately warmed up to the challenges accompanying his job by declaring Zimbabwe will look for more friends and extend its Look East policy.
There is nothing wrong with the Look East policy but expecting Asian investment to anchor our expansionary programmes would be disastrous.
Our government so far has exhibited the attitude which implies Look East policy means doing business with China only.
The deluge of Chinese business in this country is testament to that.
From mining to retail, the Chinese have been slowly but significantly straddling across the economic sectors.
It is important to note that there has been no visible and meaningful investment in infrastructure by the Chinese save for a hotel in the wetlands of Belvedere and the construction of the National Defence College.
The Defence college was built at an estimated cost of $90 million under a barter deal.
Zimbabwe needs to benefit from its relationship with China.
Only two weeks ago, China released $5 billion to Kenya for economic support.
Given our much touted and vaunted relationship with China, isn’t it surprising that we continue to do barter deals?
Chinamasa must extend his invitation to Europe, Australia and the United States as these are countries with well known investments in Africa.
China, based on its current relationship with Zimbabwe, is not an investor but an extractor!
Now Chinamasa, 66, a constitutional lawyer with minimal economic policy-making experience, must persuade Parliament this week to pass the government’s supplementary budget and steer the most recent economic plan — centred largely on macroeconomic stabilisation and the recovery of the economy.
That is the requirement imposed by Western countries and the International Monetary Fund for an IMF-staff-monitored programme (SMP) to help Zimbabwe pursue economic reforms and clear its debt arrears.
Zimbabwe asked for the staff-monitored programme in November 2011 to “accelerate economic growth, step-up the creation of sustainable jobs and help reduce poverty.”
The IMF suspended Zimbabwe’s voting rights in June 2003 as the country’s economy deteriorated and President Robert Mugabe’s government fell behind on debt repayments, but restored those rights.
Both the IMF and the World Bank expect a continuation of the programmes agreed during the four-year tenure of the transitional government.
It is our hope that Zimbabwe can build on that to take significant steps towards stabilising and improving the economy.