President Robert Mugabe’s call for an end to violence was a breath of fresh air in an environment fouled by hate speech, especially so because it comes at a time when citizens are yearning for genuine national healing, peace and stability so that its recovery can be swift, effective and lasting.
The call could not have come at a better time than now as New Zim Steel and New Zim Minerals, companies born out of the defunct Ziscosteel by Indian firm Essar Africa Holdings, are officially starting operations.
President Mugabe made a passionate plea to all citizens saying violence would do harm to the country’s ability to attract the much-needed foreign direct investment. He said: “If there is violence, they (foreign companies) begin to wonder if their investments are safe.”
Economic commentators have long said political challenges surrounding the inclusive government and the seeming reluctance to iron out the sticking points in the Global Political Agreement had remained the number one nightmare for the economy.
Finance minister Tendai Biti, in his Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review Statement a fortnight ago, said the fact that Zimbabwe continued to be permanently on the Sadc agenda was enough to scare away potential investors who have the wherewithal to help breathe life into the fledgling economy.
Political issues are said to be imposing serious shocks and pressures on the economy and reducing the planning horizon, creating the matrix of policy inconsistencies and double-speak as well as compounding country risk.
These are the issues that have made Zimbabwe a stench in the nostrils of Western countries that would otherwise be willing to invest here.
It is, therefore, crucial that everybody heeds President Mugabe’s call if the country is to attract the much-needed foreign investment, particularly easing the deadweight brought to bear on the economy by moribund parastatals that have also continued to bleed the fiscus.
It is our considered view that the decisiveness with which government dealt with the disposal of Ziscosteel can be extended to other ailing, but very critical, entities such as Air Zimbabwe, which has become a problem child, and the National Railways of Zimbabwe.
The investment at Ziscosteel will evidently result in the creation of thousands of jobs for ordinary people in Redcliff, Kwekwe, Mwanesi and Chivhu, ensuring that young people will not just sit idle as many in the area have reportedly resorted to social maladies such as crime and prostitution to make ends meet.
There is no doubt the ripple effects to downstream industries will be immense, but all this can only happen if we provide foreign investors with the appropriate environment that makes them prosper.
What we need are mutually beneficial partnerships between government and the investors.