Prosper Ndlovu/Nduduzo Tshuma, Chronicle Reporters
ZIMBABWE is open to doing business with every genuine investor but will not tolerate chancers, and corrective measures are being taken to ensure that signed capital projects are implemented within specific timelines, Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga (Retired), said yesterday.
Responding to questions from delegates to the International Business Conference (IBC) at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) underway in Bulawayo, the Vice President said due diligence was being put in place to guarantee quick implementation of investments signed with foreign firms or partners so as to protect national interests.
Delegates had raised concerns at the delays in implementing major capital projects such as the $1 billion Chirundu-Beitbridge Road dualisation which was commissioned several months ago. Tender for the mega-project has since been cancelled after the Austrian contractor, Geiger International, failed to start work.
“These days we will do groundbreaking when the project is already in progress so that we don’t waste His Excellency’s time commissioning what has not started.
“Cabinet took a decision and the President (Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa) made the pronouncement that the Beitbridge-Chirundu tender has been cancelled,” said VP Chiwenga.
“We will not take chancers but serious business people and this time if you want to do business with us you should give us a clear timeline to do that job.”
He said as Government forges ahead to spruce up the road infrastructure that includes the Beitbridge-Victoria Falls dualisation, Karoi-Binga road, Bulawayo-Nkayi and Nkayi-Lupane roads, contractors will be required to table specific timelines that they have to stick to.
“It must be time-bound projects where one will be specific. The new dispensation will not tolerate empty ceremonies as they are costly to Government and time wasting,” said the Vice President.
Since last November, Zimbabwe has secured a number of investment commitments running into billions of dollars with different countries. Hopes are high that once these materialise, the economy will experience a huge jump thereby propelling the country to a new development trajectory.
Earlier in his speech the Vice President assured local and international investors that Government was committed to maintaining credible and consistent policies to foster robust economic growth and development. He stressed the need to strengthen value chains in the economy through enhancing value addition programmes and promoting linkages between agriculture and manufacturing sectors to accelerate industrial development. This includes ensuring that both public and private sectors work together on funding research and development programmes critical for promoting efficient ways of producing goods and services.
VP Chiwenga called for objective discussions on underlying causes of rampant corruption in the economy. He said some of the challenges affecting the country include ongoing fiscal indiscipline, liquidity and cash shortages, low capacity utilisation, unemployment and low motivation of the workforce as well as poor corporate governance across most sectors of the economy.
“I now challenge you, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, to self introspect and identify the causal factors of the cancers that have eaten into our socio-economic well-being,” he said.
“We should honestly ask ourselves what has happened to the pride of being Zimbabwean and the concept of national goodwill, including the economic sense. The call is for us to restore our dignity by prioritising our beloved country before self.”
The VP said it was incumbent upon everyone to complement the re-engagement efforts by building trust and confidence in the country’s institutions.
“A holistic and inclusive approach towards increasing productivity and capacity utilisation would enhance export potential.
“Our traditional markets for beef, clothing and flowers remain open to accommodate us. In the mining sector, for instance, let us examine the feasibility of increasing gold production and building sufficient reserves through increased mining activities,” said Gen Chiwenga.
“We need to examine the reasons for our high costs of production, in order to regain competitiveness by addressing them.”
He said the new dispensation under President Mnangagwa was doing its best to facilitate a favourable investment climate and applauded the President for aggressively marketing Zimbabwe as a country open for business at various international platforms.
VP Chiwenga said many investors had responded positively to President Mnangagwa’s calls hence the increased number of investors that have shown interest in investing in various sectors of the economy.
“Zimbabwe is indeed open for business and has infinite opportunities for serious investors. The impact is already being felt in some quarters,” said Vice President Chiwenga.