The business community says Zimbabwe requires far-reaching reforms such as improving the investment climate and urgent measures to tackle foreign currency shortages to stimulate economic growth.
Government projects the economy to grow by 4,5% driven by agriculture and mining output. But international financial institutions like the World Bank made a forecast of a modest 0,9%, arguing that more needs to be done to quicken growth.
The protection of property rights, according to business leaders, is at the core of a free-market economy. Zimbabwe has in the past violated bilateral agreements, a development that has kept investors at bay.
Raising the business sector’s concerns at a breakfast meeting with President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday, Zimbabwe Business Club chairperson Caleb Dengu said policy clarity and consistency as well as a stable financial system are key to the country’s economic turnaround.
He said the government should engage other players soon to restart the country’s debt and arrears clearance programme approved in Lima, Peru, in 2015 to woo investors. Zimbabwe, which has been in arrears since 1999, has a debt stock of over US$10 billion.
“Zimbabwe needs a truly independent central bank … This means clear separation of powers between the board of directors and governor,” Dengu said.
He pointed out the need to strengthen agricultural value chains as well as create an apolitical climate that boosts investor confidence.
Responding to these issues, Mnangagwa said that Zimbabwe is now open for investment following the ouster of long-time leader Robert Mugabe last November.
“Zimbabwe is now open for investment but it should be noted that I can’t do it on my own, we need to work together as a nation to achieve our goals,” Mnangagwa said.
“We are serious on the issue of re-engaging the international community, even those that have publicly disregarded us. We also keep our old friends … I want to assure you that what we need is your cooperation and input.”
On the issue of timelines on state enterprise reform, Mnangagwa said it should be noted that there is need to consult and see which ones can be closed, sold or revived, adding that it is not a job that can be done in a short period.
He assured the business community that modalities on the importance of the investment climate were on course.