REPORTS that investment commitments notched by the Government in the past 100 days have exceeded $3,1 billion are an indication that contrary to negative sentiment about the performance of the new dispensation within the first three months, it has actually done a wonderful job given the challenges confronting the economy.
The most important achievement of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has been the gradual restoration of investor confidence in Zimbabwe — a mean feat considering the damage that had been wrought on brand Zimbabwe in the past 37 years of former President Robert Mugabe’s rule. The sweeping reforms that Cde Mnangagwa promised in his inauguration speech have largely been implemented with some still in the pipeline.
The President’s message at various international fora has always emphasised that Zimbabwe is open for business and the country is doing all it can to shed its pariah status and embrace the community of nations. The new Government has walked the talk, cracking down on corruption, amending the Indigenisation Act and implementing other far reaching reforms aimed at luring investors and creating much needed jobs for ordinary Zimbabweans.
The international community has embraced these changes and investors have begun flooding the country. This has been confirmed by none other MDC-T policy coordinator and Bulawayo South legislator, Mr Eddie Cross, who told Parliament on Tuesday that indeed, the new dispensation had ushered in new investor confidence and renewed interest in the country. “I have personally have been involved in contract negotiations valued at over $3 billion in the past two months,” he said, adding that there was a need to maintain investor confidence by having peaceful elections this year. Mr Cross also said he believes President Mnangagwa was sincere in his calls for free and fair elections.
On Tuesday, Government announced that President Mnangagwa’s mantra that Zimbabwe is open for business has charmed investors and materialisation of the deals clinched in the past 100 days would see Government creating more jobs especially for the youths. Giving further details on the investment commitments, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Mr George Charamba, said the $3,1 billion mark announced by President Mnangagwa recently had since been surpassed and many projects would soon begin showing on the ground. “His Excellency, the President has been giving a broad indication to the nation that there has been quite a positive investor response to his pitch for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“Whilst he has given the nation a figure of $3,1 billion, that figure has since been exceeded in the light of new commitments which are quite advanced in the direction of firming up. To that extent we can now go back to the nation and give specific details in terms of those commitments, a good many of which will begin to show on the ground.”
He added: “The new President’s focus is in three areas of which area one is jobs, area two is jobs and area three is jobs especially for the youths.” Some of the investments in the pipeline include the $984 million dualisation of the Beitbridge-Masvingo-Harare highway. The project, being implemented by Gieger International is expected to begin this month as the Austrian contractor is setting up camps.
Beitbridge Border Post will be upgraded at a cost of $240 million in a project being carried out by Zim-Borders, a local consortium. Underway also is the first phase of the $400 million recapitalisation of the National Railways of Zimbabwe being undertaken by Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG) and Spoornet of South Africa. NRZ will get 13 locomotives, 200 wagons and 34 passenger coaches to address key resource gaps in its operations.
Already 150 wagons, seven locomotives and seven passenger coaches have been delivered with the remainder expected in the country by next month.
Government is finalising a $153 million loan agreement with China’s Eximbank which will be used to spruce up the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
In the energy sector, the $1,1 billion expansion of Hwange Power Station (Units 7 and 8) has reached financial closure stage.
The project will see 600 megawatts being added at the country’s biggest thermal power plant. Currently, the power station has installed capacity of 920 MW. In the agriculture sector Belarus facilities exceed $50 million, funding which will mainly be used for bringing in tractors and fertiliser inputs into Zimbabwe.
In the mining sector, Karo Resources Limited (South Africa) has committed to invest $4,2 billion to develop a world class integrated mining and refining facility. The plant will have a capacity to process two million ounces of platinum group metals (PMGs) per annum. The investment will also include a four million tonne per annum coal mining and processing facility with an onsite 300 MW power station.
Under the quick-wins being done under the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, coal miner, Liberation Mining intends to invest $158 million in the first five years. Equipment is on site and the firm is waiting for an environmental impact assessment certification for its Gwayi concession in Lupane, Matabeleland North province.
Zimbabwe is indeed open for business.