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Politics should serve business

In recent weeks it has been quite refreshing to hear Zimbabwe’s business leaders, individually and through their various industry groupings — Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and Business Council of Zimbabwe to name just a few, come out of their shells, crying out for an early, credible and peaceful poll.

Zimbabwe Independent Editorial

Their previous “quiet diplomacy” whenever elections have been held in the past seems not to have given the desired results.

Now there seems to be agreement that nothing other than progressive democracy ushered in via a sound electoral process, can take this economy forward.

The business leaders and citizens at large have finally understood that the country’s politics should serve to improve the business climate as a necessary condition to strengthen the country’s economic competitiveness, build investor confidence and boost growth potential and thus create sustainable jobs and investment opportunities.
Zimbabwean business leaders are not alone in this observation.

This week the World Bank in its Interim Strategy Note (ISN) on Zimbabwe for the period 2013 to 2015, observes that given the anticipated elections on the back of the new constitution, Zimbabwe’s economic rebound hinges on fostering private sector-led growth.

The ISN says despite capacity in both the public and private sectors having suffered from a decade of poor investment, the private sector in particular could, with a conducive environment, be the key driver of growth post this year’s elections.

However, while there are several structural impediments to growth and investment, politics is central to the revival of the private sector and whoever earns the right to form the next government must be decisive and quick to resolve this issue.

Principally, the uncertainties caused by the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act have invariably deterred foreign investment and scared off other capital flows, exacerbating the domestic liquidity crunch, resulting in very high credit costs and a dysfunctional financial intermediation environment.

The second must-do for the new government is to restore order and put finality to agrarian reforms, particularly issues to do with compensation settlements for displaced farmers, rationalisation of land holdings and granting of permanent title to new farmers.

Thirdly, resolving issues haunting the mining sector, mainly the lifting of the veil of secrecy around the exploitation of key mineral resources such as diamonds, iron ore, gold and platinum in order to improve transparency and enhance the contribution of the mining sector to the country’s sustainable growth.

Greater clarity in the country’s mineral policies is required to deal with the current lack of due process in the allocation of mining rights, the concealment of beneficial ownership, opaque financial terms of joint ventures, and other vices which have led to leakages and diversion of revenue away from the fiscus.

The business community has previously been silent leaving their interests at the mercy of politicians.

As commanders of entrepreneurship and capital, we are glad that they have finally taken the bold step of joining hands with the lowly folk to demand an environment which is conducive for economic recovery and growth.

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