ZIMBABWE should look everywhere to grow the economy, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said yesterday, an admission that the “Look East” policy had not yielded the desired results.
Zimbabwe adopted the Look East policy in 2003 after being slapped with economic sanctions by the West over alleged human rights violations.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe-International Monetary Fund (IMF) relations breakfast meeting in the capital yesterday, Chinamasa said no matter how difficult the situation was, Zimbabwe had tried to re-engage international financiers to gain access to international markets.
“In the interest of the country, we should look everywhere in order to move forward and that means we should look to the East, to the West, to the North and to the South. There should be no area we say we are not looking at to exploit opportunities for our country,” he said.
“As we all know, we are a small market so anyone who is serious about growing this country must look to the export market and that means looking everywhere.”
Despite looking East, particularly China, Zimbabwe has not reaped tangible benefits to turn around the fortunes of the economy despite Beijing landing big deals.
Last month, President Robert Mugabe was in China and got commitment from Beijing that it would fund viable and bankable projects in infrastructure.
Beijing has become a darling for African capitals due to its neutral governance approach.
Chinamasa said Zimbabwe had no access to European capital as it owes the European Investment Bank $350 million.
“No matter how difficult it is as far as government has done, we have defined that it is in our interest to engage the IMF and we are doing so and we want your support. We say it’s important; unless we do so we have no access to capital markets,” he said.
Chinamasa said the decision by the IMF that Zimbabwe was not eligible for the Heavily-Indebted Poor Countries programme meant that the country had the potential to turn around its economic fortunes and “only requires of us to exploit that potential”.
“We have the capacity to put our house in order and we are not a basket case, for the reasons that we all know, what basically we need to do is to correct things. Let’s have a correct analytical picture of our economy and our challenges,” he said.