A fortnight after Zimbabwe’s official delegation to the Cape Town Mining Indaba did commendably well in convincing the world that this country is now a much better investment destination, Harare will host a Zimbabwe Mining Investment Conference on February 27 and 28.
Next week’s event is a glorious opportunity for the country to showcase to the international community what the richly endowed extractive sector has to offer. The wave of goodwill created in Cape Town is expected to gather momentum next week.
Headline speakers include Liberation Mining CE Victor Tskhovrebov, Moti Group chief executive and Zimbabwe National Project co-ordinator Ashruf Kaka, Mines minister Winston Chitando and his finance counterpart Patrick Chinamasa. Although there is still a lot of work to be done in reviving the mining sector and the economy at large, there are plenty of signals showing that Zimbabwe is indeed registering some progress in boosting investor confidence.
For starters, the huge number of enquiries from foreign investors who are interested in doing business here shows that this country is on the cusp of turning a new leaf and rising from the ashes. We are not there yet, but if practical action is taken to match rhetoric to implementation, big achievements could soon be attained. At policy level, the government still has a mountain to climb. The country continues to fare poorly in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business and competitiveness rankings. In 2017, Zimbabwe was placed number 159 out of 190 countries. From 2008 to 2017, the country averaged 163.
These rankings point to low confidence in how this country treats investors—particularly with regards to the regulatory framework.
It is vital for the authorities to go beyond populist rhetoric and embrace pragmatism. For instance, the government has announced that the indigenisation law which has spooked investors for many years will soon be scrapped for the sake of economic rejuvenation. But the offending law has neither been repealed nor amended.
For Zimbabwe to move forward and make a clean break with a turbulent and poverty-stricken past, the economic and political reform agenda must be broadened and deepened with intensity.
Progressive nations formulate a long-term economic vision and programmes. Zimbabwe’s tragedy is its the political leaders, throughout the country’s post-independence history, have been obsessed with electioneering and self-aggrandisement at the expense of economic progress, inclusivity and broad-based prosperity.
On a recent visit to Botswana, President Emmerson Mnangagwa admitted that Zimbabwe has no diamond policy. It was a scandalous revelation in a country built on diamonds. The formal mining of diamonds has been conducted in this country for decades. Why has Zimbabwe failed to formulate a diamond policy for 38 years?
Even more shocking is the announcement that Zimbabwe is planning to send rough diamonds to Botswana for cutting and polishing. What stops Zimbabwe from cutting and polishing its diamonds?
The Zimbabwean government must approach the mining sector with seriousness as it will, together with agriculture, be the locomotive of economic recovery and growth.