Zimbabwe should create a political and regulatory environment that ensures foreign investors and their investments are safe, if businesses in the country are to tap into excess liquidity in the South African banking system, South African Minister in the Presidency in charge of the National Planning Commission, Trevor Manuel has advised.
In an exclusive interview with NewsDay, ahead of the AMH Conversations dialogue next week, Manuel said South African companies also faced several uncertainties in investing in Zimbabwe and this hampered investment.
“(Zimbabwe needs to) create a domestic political and regulatory environment that ensures foreign investors that their investments will be safe, that (investors) will be able to repatriate profits, and that there is a skilled workforce,” the former South African Minister of Finance advised in the interview, which will be published in full on Monday.
It is estimated that South African banks have excess liquidity of up to 500 billion rand and with an adequate regulatory system, they may be willing to lend to Zimbabwean businesses.
Zimbabwe has gazetted indigenisation regulations, which force foreign companies to cede at least 51% of shareholding to locals, raising fears that this may drive out investors, who have developed a wait-and-see approach before committing their investments in the southern African country.
On top of the creation of an enabling environment, Manuel emphasised the need for Zimbabwe to provide “hard and soft infrastructure” like trade facilitation, efficient customs clearance and reliable road and rail networks.
Turning to the $100 million that Zimbabwe requested from its southern neighbour, Manuel said there had to be trade-offs and South Africa could not throw money at bad policies.
“Money is tight,” he said. “There has to be trade-offs and mutual gains. Nobody can throw good money at bad policies or practices. That would simply be irresponsible.”
Manuel will on Monday be the guest speaker at the increasingly popular AMH conversations, where he will discuss “Africa and the European Financial Crisis – Opportunities and Risks”.
- Please note that the full Q&A with Minister Trevor Manuel will be published in full in NewsDay on Monday.