Zida CEO champions one-stop investment agency, and says corruption will not be tolerated at all levels
By Zimbabwe Digital Express
Zimbabwe is battling with issues of perception, trust of governance, questions over property rights – but the government is genuinely addressing all those sticking points in putting brand Zimbabwe on operating standards that could be benchmarked with acceptable world standards.
This was among the key points by respected banker, CEO of the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (Zida) Doug Munatsi at the Zimbabwe Diaspora Engagement for Development webinar that was hosted by the Zimbabwe Embassy in Pretoria this week – the first in a series planned with Zimbabweans living outside Zimbabwe.
It emerged at the webinar that Zimbabwe is reviewing its 2016 Zimbabwe National Diaspora Initiative programme which was located in the Ministry of Macro-Economic Planning and Investment and had now been opened up for public discussion, comments, suggestions and amendment – given that it is now five years since it was formulated – when President Robert Mugabe was still in power.
The Zimbabwe Diaspora Desk had since been moved to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Munatsi spoke about the aims and objectives of the one-year-old Zida – government agency which had been rolled out by President Emmerson Mnangagwa as a one-stop investment services centre that Zimbabweans throughout the world could make use of – instead of being turned from pillar to post through red tape and government bureaucracy which had often been cited as symptomatic to Zimbabwean economics and way of business.
“Let me tell you a story of one of the investors who had gone to a number of government agencies, trying to open a mine, and had not succeeded. But it took one of our officers only a few steps to assist the investor, and their licences were issued
“But to the surprise of my officer, this investor kept trying to shake the hand of our development officer. At first, she said, “I won’t shake your hand. We in Zimbabwe are observing strict regulations for Covid-19 prevention.”
“But the investor tried again to shake the hand of our officer, and only then did she see that he was trying to pass onto him a couple of notes in his hand, asking her to take the money.
“She refused, and told him that at the Zida they do not do business like that, and in fact in Zimbabwe the message was that business would not be done like that.
“Many people have rep[orted that they go through a lot of hurdles in starting or operating their business in Zimbabwe, and that these have to do with obtaining permits, licences, and obtaining permission.
But at Zida we are saying that Zimbabwe has turned the point. From the day that you walk in to the day that you walk out, we will offer you conformity to the law of investment, non-discrimination between domestic and foreign investors, guarantees against expropriation and flexibility in the transfer of funds,” said Munatsi, adding that all this was spelt out clearly in the Zida Act of 10 of 2019.
Munatsi who was appointed in March 2020, said that much of Zida’s work had had to adjust to Covid-19 disruptions and there had been much movement in designating key development zones in Zimbabwe – including Beit Bridge for logistical reasons, Bulawayo for industrial purposes, Mutare for a diamond cutting and polishing plant, and two sites in Harare for ICT development.
An entire development belt stretching from Victoria Falls through to Kanyemba and straddling the Kariba dam had been designated as a tourism circuit, and also a number of government assets that were lying idle in mining, including a graphite mine in Karoi had attracted investors.
He revealed the designation of Victoria Falls Economic development Zone which included a stock exchange and a bond market that did not deal with equities only but also the zone would accept the use of the US dollar for those who are conducting business in the US dollars in the economic zone.
Zida was also championing the licensing of medicinal cannabis through the medicines control council and that anybody who came to invest in the sector would be able to export their earnings without interference.
Munatsi took time to roll out the government Musha/Umuzi Housing Scheme which had received seed money from the treasury to attract Zimbabwean diasporans who wished to build or invest in property in Zimbabwe.
“Look we all know that many people have come out to report that they had either been scammed by land barons and they had invested into bogus schemes or lost money in land deals and so forth.
“With Musha/Umuzi we are saying here is a government back housing scheme which our people in the diaspora can make use of as a property investment
“Yes there will still be a lack of trust among some of our compatriots, and it is natural for people to be suspicious, and people will be skeptical about their investments. But at Zida we are saying that we will protect your investments and that we shall uphold the law,” he said.
Zimbabwe ambassador to South Africa David Hamadziripi said that the webinar this week was the first in a series that the embassy would implement with different stakeholders as part of continuous engagement with the embassy, consulate, and the Zimbabweans at large.
“We have been talking in small groups, but we are now expanding the conversations. it is the duty of the embassy to ensure that Zimbabweans – no matter where they are – have got access to these types of discussions, and not only to be informed know about the investment opportunities, but also how to access them.
“That is why today we have invited the International Organisation for Migration, who are the experts on issues of migration throughout the continent, to attend and speak to us about their experiences with regional migration pattens and especially among our people.
“Zimbabwe will not be built by people on the sidelines, and none but ourselves will bring glory to the country. We stand ready and willing to welcome any Zimbabweans in attaining Vision 2030 and it is through this that the government is reviewing the current Zimbabwe Diaspora policy from 2016 into coordinated
“So this is one of the many webinars that we will hold, this is not a once-off we will continue to invite different stakeholders and this week’s encounter has shown that we need to engage more,” said Ambassador Hamadziripi.
The webinar was also addressed by IOM Regional Director for Southern Africa Charles Kwenin, Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and about 160 participants.
Mr Charles said that the IOM was currently involved in programmes that supported temporary and permanent relocation to Zimbabwe and to other home countries in Southern Africa for migrants in distress and those who wished to return to their home countries.
He said that the IOM was hugely impressed with the initiatives that had been taken by the Zimbabwe Embassy in Pretoria to kick-start interactions with the Zimbabwean diaspora and that the organisation stood ready to repatriate any Zimbabweans in the diaspora whose livelihoods had been disrupted by Covid-19, and emphasised that the organisation did not support any forced migrations or deportations, or other inhuman treatment of migrants.
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