Zimbabwe, by its nature and character, has always been a favourable destination for investment, but on the ground the story has been different. The media has covered stories of known international figures who have come into the country with the intention of setting up multi-billion-dollar investments, but again, nothing has taken off as most of these initiatives have died a natural death.
The plague of briefcase businessmen who demand access fees from potential investors is an animal that has reared its ugly head on many investors and this has chased away potential investment and robbed the country of much needed revenue.
Investors were given the impression that for them to successfully set up businesses in Zimbabwe they had to pay certain amounts to gain access to offices of influential figures and to get their investments processed by the government. The access fees became a major hindrance and saw investors fleeing thereby starving the country of the much-needed Foreign Direct Investment.
This week Doug Munatsi, the Zida CEO, while briefing the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade emphatically stated that there are no access fees required for one to invest in Zimbabwe adding that the One Stop Investment Services Centre (OSISC), which houses relevant government agencies, is a single cohesive entity that provides prompt, efficient and transparent services to investors.
OSISC has made available shortened and simple administrative procedures and guidelines for issuance of investment licenses.
The beauty of OSISC is also that it has streamlined approval processes by bringing all relevant ministries and agents under one roof. Chances of officers dragging licensing processes in order to push investors into producing a brown envelope are next to none and this system has removed all forms of third parties and plugged all loopholes that were previously used by individuals who used to demand access fees from investors.
Zida is the first port of call for investment in Zimbabwe and has set up its operations in such a way that an investor can register their business, begin operations and receive after-care services without having to visit any high offices for favours.
Services are offered without any partiality or discrimination and those who were demanding access fees have had their channel blocked as all efforts to misdirect investors to ministries and agencies have been met with stiff resistance and all enquiries have been redirected to Zida.
The Zida Act repealed the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Act, the Special Economic Zones Act and the Joint Ventures Act, all of which were dealing with investors separately.
The merging of three entities into Zida sought to deal with the numerous challenges, amongst them:
- Overlapping legal investment instruments and business regulatory procedures;
- Fragmented investment services by government agencies;
- Uncoordinated screening of investments, which caused unnecessary delays and opened avenues for rent-seeking behaviour; and
- Limited financial support for investment promotion and development activities.
- Zida therefore seeks to improve doing business through:
- Providing a single point of contact for the processing of investment proposals;
- Issuance of investment certificates and other associated permits/licences from one centre;
- Streamlining investment la-ws to foster coherence and predictability;
- Quickening and easing investment approval process; and
- Restoring business confidence in Zimbabwe.