GOVERNMENT should first assure investors on how they would be able to repatriate their investment before running around preaching the mantra of the country being open for business, Alpha Media Holdings managing director, Kenias Mafukidze, has said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Contributing at the Urban Infrastructure Investment Summit held in Bulawayo on Monday, Mafukidze said preaching that the country was open for business would not be helpful without first addressing the issue of funds repatriation.
“. . . the elephant that we have (in the room) is the ability to remit money outside the country, because, where we stand now, if anyone of us wants to go outside the country, the bank in its formal structure, cannot give me $50 to go to South Africa,” he said.
“Now, how do you envisage bringing in $3 billion, $4 billion, $5 billion, $6 billion or $7 billion into this country for someone like him in South Africa, if we cannot guarantee that he would be able to get it back?
“So, I think it will not make any sense for us to keep running hard selling this country, talking about what we can do and what opportunities, until we answer the question that the first thing any investor would want to understand, is how do I get paid?”
Mafukidze said he felt the government was not addressing the real problem.
“. . . we will sell and sell, but we will not be able to attract any meaningful investment, because, as it is now, I would estimate we have probably $2 billion or $3 billion that is sitting outside the banking sector and in people’s pillows and all.
“Why? Because the moment we put that money in the bank we won’t get it,” he said.
“Until we go to the basics and answer that . . . that is the single fact that we have and must deal with.”
Deloitte Advisory Services consultant, Tatenda Chimusoro said the issue of repatriating investments was critical.
“If I walk into a lender, the first question they will ask me is [whether they will] be able to take money outside Zimbabwe,” Chimusoro said.
“So the question is; how can we give confidence to the lending community that if you bring in your money you will be able to take it out?”
In response, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing permanent secretary, George Mlilo said President Emmerson Mnangagwa had assured investors that they would be able to take out their investments without any hassles.
“There is no one at the present moment failing to move out his or her investment,” he said. “The people, who are trying to move out funds from the country are those that have got the appetite to externalise.
“Then there is collusion.”