FRENCH ambassador to Zimbabwe Laurent Delahousse has urged the Zanu PF government to change course and urgently re-engage the international community for a financial rescue package to stop the current economic meltdown.
Delahousse told NewsDay on Tuesday that it was high time that government dropped its policy of relying on “a few select partners” as this had compromised the country’s potential to benefit from the rest of the international community.
Outgoing European Union ambassador to Zimbabwe Aldo Dell’Ariccia and Foreign Affairs deputy minister Christopher Mutsvangwa have previously made similar observations.
Delahousse said it was critical for Zimbabwe to intensify its re-engagement policy if goals outlined in Zanu PF’s economic blueprint for the next five years, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset), are to be achieved.
“I think the strategical approach identified in ZimAsset is correct because it identifies the shortcomings of the Zimbabwean economy,” Delahousse said.
“What is important is to find the right means of financing the restart of the economy and for this, Zimbabwe must intensify its policy of engaging with the whole international community, not only a select few partners.”
Zanu PF adopted the Look East Policy a decade ago after it severed ties with the European Union bloc following the imposition of targeted travel and economic sanctions over alleged human rights violations.
The policy has, however, come under fire from analysts who argue that Zimbabwe’s major ally, China, has been benefiting more at the expense of the Southern African country, a development that has seen the Look East Policy failing to rescue the Zimbabwean economy.
Delahousse said the government should open its doors to Western companies willing to do business in Zimbabwe, but, however, highlighted that the government needed to put the right policies in place first.
“The whole international community has a role to play in rebuilding the Zimbabwean economy. There should be a place for companies from the West which produce products that may be seen as expensive, but are certainly of high quality,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s indigenisation policy, which compels foreign-owned firms to cede majority shareholding to locals, has been blamed for scaring away potential investors.
Lack of respect for Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (Bippas) and the continuing farm invasions have also been identified as unsettling investors.
“One thing that is necessary for the political and economic actors in Zimbabwe is to look in the long-term. The problem in this country is that very often, there are short-term deals and these have no sustainability in them. We have French investors willing to come here, but they do not want short-term deals. What they are looking for are long-term deals,” Delahousse said.