Investors afraid of elections

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Investors who attended the two-day, Zimbabwe Trade and Investment conference in South Africa last week applauded the government’s efforts to showcase investment opportunities in the country, but called for a quick solution to the issue of holding of elections.

They said while there were several investment opportunities, the political situation remained worrisome.

President Robert Mugabe has on several occasions said elections to put an end to the squabbles rocking the inclusive government would be held this year without fail, while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai insists that elections would only be held when necessary reforms have been completed.

The reforms largely have to do with how elections would be conducted in order to create an environment for credible elections. Cobramar managing director Michel Thuysbaert said he was impressed with the presentation by ministers and hoped the political situation remains stable.

“What we read in the Press and the reality on the ground is different,” Thuysbaert said. “I think the conference was encouraging and dollarisation was a good move.”

Thuysbaert said his company intended to invest in a coal-to-liquid plant.

Kone Solutions managing director Paul Mokone said the conference brought to the fore numerous opportunities available in the country.

“I feel inspired to get into Zimbabwe, but the only concern is about elections. I know that it can create fears and violence. I know that people do not want their business to destabilise,” he said.

Another delegate, Lucy Vafiades said the conference was a welcome development and was one of the ways through which the country could open up to foreign investors.

“I am very interested in investing in Zimbabwe, but the road shows have to continue,” she said.

Vassie Govender said the presence of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his ministers showed commitment on the part of the government.

“There has to be a follow-up presentation to reassure the investing public because of the past history.

“I am confident that Zimbabweans will benefit from these road shows,” he said.

Economic Planning and Investment Promotion permanent secretary Desire Sibanda said the conference was a success as it attracted high-level people and investors.

“We are South Africa’s major trading partner in Africa with Zimbabwe having exported R14 billion in 2010, which makes it Zimbabwe’s top export destination. Therefore, the growth of Zimbabwe is of interest to South Africa,” he said.

Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited chairman Nigel Chanakira said this was the cairos moment to invest in Zimbabwe.

He said he left the country in 2001 and invested in Malawi, Botswana, Zambia and South Africa, but realised that Zimbabwe would turn around and returned.

“Despite all that happened, I came back and concluded the Kingdom-Meikles transaction, though it ended up complicated. We have been able to attract worthwhile partners because they see potential in Zimbabwe,” he said.