The Zanu PF government has made a major climb-down and pleaded with the European Union (EU) to urge its members to bring in the much-needed foreign direct investment (FDI) to save the ailing economy.
Foreign Affairs deputy minister Christopher Mutsvangwa admitted in an interview with NewsDay yesterday that the ruling party had realised that it cannot turn around the economy without a cash injection from its sworn enemies from Europe.
“At the present moment, our focus is on rebuilding the economy and we want FDI. In this regard, the EU is a major source of this FDI. We would want them to play a very active role in reviving the economy and that is why we would like them to bring capital to Zimbabwe and invest here,” Mutsvangwa said.
Zanu PF and the EU have had frosty relations since 2002 when the latter imposed travel and economic sanctions on President Robert Mugabe’s government citing gross human rights violations.
Miffed by the decision, Zanu PF launched its Look East Policy to compensate for the withdrawal of Western investment in the country.
The policy has, however, been criticised for failing to rescue the economy with analysts accusing Zimbabwe’s Asian ally, China, of dumping its sub-standard products in Harare.
Zimbabwe’s economy has been experiencing a downfall since last year’s disputed elections which were won by Mugabe.
The indigenisation policy as well as a lack of respect for Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements among other factors such as the recent farm invasions have also been blamed for scaring away potential investors.
Mutsvangwa dispelled fears of seizure of investments among foreign investors saying Mugabe was currently working to ensure that impediments to FDI were cleared.
“They should not fear anything. Not at all. The Head of State is seized with the matter of revising laws which may be an impediment to FDI. Our ambition is to make sure that we are the best destination for FDI,” said Mutsvangwa.
Mugabe is on record saying the country’s indigenisation policy, which compels foreign investors to cede majority shareholding to locals, is not a one-size-fits-all concept.
The EU is, however, of the view that Mugabe needs to turn his assurances into concrete legislative acts as a way of boosting confidence among potential investors.
Mutsvangwa said Zanu PF was keeping its fingers crossed ahead of November when the EU is expected to decide on whether to resume direct co-operation with Harare.
‘We are looking forward to the complete lifting of the sanctions. We want normal relations with the rest of the world. We are a very friendly people and we have been pleased by the gestures that the EU has been showing on the Zimbabwean issue.
“Most importantly, we are pleased that all the outstanding issues about Zimbabwe are now being discussed,” Mutsvangwa said.
Recently the Zimbabwe-EU Business Information Centre was launched to assist small and medium enterprises to access
information on areas of trade with Europe.