GOVERNMENT has pleaded with Western diplomats to help bring investment to the country to fund its economic blueprint, ZimAsset, assuring them that a number of laws that hindered foreign direct investment are being amended.
Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda made the plea during a tour of the Norton Special Economic Zone (NECZ) on Wednesday, which was attended by foreign diplomats.
He said the parliamentary portfolio committees are working on amending laws that hinder foreign direct investment.
“Diplomats move along with us, march with us, bring that money,” said Mudenda during the function that was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“If you can invest in Afghanistan and Iraq, then why not in Zimbabwe where there is peace and tranquillity. There are laws that need to be changed, including the investment law under the Zimbabwe Investment Act (ZIA).”
Mudenda said there was need to define what an investor is in law and what foreign direct investment is from a Zimbabwean perspective.
Section 13 of the current ZIA was not investor-friendly as it took long to approve an application from an investor while the composition of the Investment Committee needed to be relooked at, he said.
“The investor applies and the application is received by the investment committee and it sits there for 14 days. Then it goes to the Investment Board where it sits for another 21 days, all in all it totals 35 days. In China it takes three days and they are through with you. We say no to section 13,” said Mudenda, adding “we need to look at the composition of the Investment Committee.
We need men and women in that committee who understand business issues”.
He also criticised the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, in particular sections 3 and 4, arguing that it gives too many discretional powers to the minister of Indigenisation.
Mudenda said: “The minister (of Indigenisation) presented his draft to the Zanu PF politburo and we were happy that he is working with speed to make sure those amendments are finalised.
“Section 3 and 4 of the Act must be clear, eloquent and leave no room for speculation. The office of the Attorney General, in crafting those sections, should be mindful of that,” he said.
Mudenda also spoke of the need to amend the Banking Act so that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has more authority on fiscal matters as well as the Mineral Act of 1963 in order to attract foreign direct investment.
“Parliament is also keen to assist the executive to amend the immigration laws. Other countries give their visas right at the port of entry. Well, there is this fear of security but if we empower our RBZ, they can check in 24 hours whether an investor is bringing in clean money.”
Mudenda told the diplomats that there was rule of law in the country and the political climate was very amendable.
“We respect rule of law. There may be instances here and there but that should not hinder or obliterate foreign direct investment.
There is the sacred law (constitution) that will ensure that all I am saying is indeed protected by the law,” he said.
“Members of the diplomatic corps, do you want any further comfort other than that? You are in a legal comfort zone where parliament is the anchor of the rule of law,” said Mudenda.'