Stanford Chiwanga in Pretoria, South Africa
THE new political dispensation has excited the diaspora community which has expressed interest in working with the President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led Government in turning around the economy.
The Zimbabwe Business Forum-South Africa, a grouping of Zimbabwean business people based in South Africa, has declared readiness and willingness to set up new businesses and help revive ailing ones in response to President Mnangagwa’s call for them to invest back home.
President Mnangagwa, who was sworn into office last Friday following the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe, stressed the need to revitalise the economy and appealed to all progressive Zimbabweans and partners, locally and abroad, to come on board in transforming the country’s fortunes.
Forum chair, Mr Marshal Rufura Ndlela, also known as General Sankara, said their members were all along reluctant to invest in Zimbabwe because of political uncertainty.
“It has been our plan to invest home but there was uncertainty with respect to investment policies, liquidity, corporate governance and generally the economy. But we have been persuaded by the corrective measures taken by the army, Zanu-PF, the people of Zimbabwe and the inauguration speech given by President Mnangagwa.
“The assurance that all investments will be safe and his keenness to engage the diaspora who are in business in other countries has triggered our interest,” said Mr Ndlela.
“Our organisation has been in existence for some time now but we had no zeal because of what was happening in Zimbabwe. But the resignation of Cde Mugabe and the coming in of President Mnangagwa was seen by us as an opportunity to support a system that is pro-economic development and investment friendly. We now have renewed energy and we are motivated.”
Mr Ndlela was speaking during the forum, which began here last Thursday and ended on Saturday under the theme “investing in a new Zimbabwe”.
He said their membership was ready to engage the Government and were only waiting for the announcement of the new Cabinet. President Mnangagwa dissolved Cabinet on Monday and is working on putting a new team to be announced soon.
“Zimbabwe is a very good country. It has good assets for investors. We are blessed with an array of natural resources, minerals and we have a human resource base, which is second to none in Africa,” said Mr Ndlela.
“The political situation has improved and changed for the better. So as the Zimbabwe Business Forum-South Africa we won’t play lip service like some international investors. We are just waiting for the naming of the new Cabinet. When it has been restructured we will engage the officials from the embassy here and officials in the relevant ministries.”
The Zimbabwe Business Forum-South Africa is made up of people with different business interests, who are keen to exploit opportunities in different economic sectors.
“We are targeting the education sector, which is the best in Africa and we want it to be the best in the world with respect to the infrastructure and staff development. We are also targeting the construction sector, we want to help build malls, towns and cities. The energy sector is also of interest to us, so is mining and agriculture,” said Mr Ndlela.
“In agriculture we want to do forestry and plantations such as bamboo plantations. So you can see that we are a diversified organisation and we want to invest in every sector back home.”
According to Mr Ndlela, quick investments by Zimbabwean businessmen based in South Africa are likely to send the right signals to other investors across the globe about Zimbabwe as a prime destination for their investments.
“Zimbabweans know better about Zimbabwe so when the world sees us plunging in they will follow suit because they won’t want to be left out. This is a new Zimbabwe and the early birds will catch the biggest and juiciest worms. I believe that we South Africa based citizens of Zimbabwe should not hesitate to take advantage of the new socio-economic and political dispensation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Gabriel Joe, the association’s deputy chairperson, believes that if Government creates an enabling environment Zimbabwe will become Africa’s most promising frontier market.
“Zimbabwe is a sleeping giant that is now awakening. Of course there were concerns. We are still keeping an eye on the political situation at the present moment but we are fixed more firmly on the long-term opportunities that President (Mnangagwa) and his Government have created,” said Mr Joe.