THE Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) last year approved 68 projects for various sectors.
More than half o
f the projects are already operational.
An application to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has been made by the EPZ for projects that fall under the agricultural sector to be exempted from the compulsory land acquisition programme.
EPZ chief executive officer Walter Chidakwa said although some of the projects were up and running some of them were yet to take off the ground.
“Last year we managed to approve 68 projects and 46 of those are now operational,” Chidakwa said. “13 of the projects are now at different stages of implementation. But some of the equipment is now being delivered into the country.”
Government has been compulsorily acquiring land at times in direct contrast to bilateral trade agreements and the EPZ laws which has again contributed to poor investment opportunities for the country.
Since 1999, Zimbabwe has been facing a massive flight of investment largely due to government’s poor fiscal planning to attract foreign investors and the breakdown of the rule of law.
The situation was further exacerbated by company invasions in 2000 led by Zanu PF functionaries.
Of the projects approved, 21 are from the horticulture industry, 32 agroprocessing, eight manufacturing, two service providers, two from textiles and three from the timber sector.
Chidakwa said the projects approved so far had resulted in 7 000 jobs being created.
Government, which has been hard-pressed for foreign currency since 1999, has of late been shifting the blame on alleged hemorrhaging of foreign currency by EPZ firms.
The blame resulted in the central bank demanding EPZ firms to re-submit their currency declaration forms.
However the firms were exonerated for any wrong-doing.
Due to the decline of foreign direct investment which initially came from Western countries, government has embarked on a major drive to woo potential investors from the Far East largely focussing on China, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia to provide the much-needed investment.
However this drive has so far not resulted in any major significant changes.
Trade experts have blamed the slow response from the Asian countries on Zimbabwe’s small market.