Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE private sector says it wants policies that favour the growth of local direct investment as a sustainable model for promoting economic growth.
This emerged during a Zanu-PF-organised breakfast business meeting in Bulawayo on Friday, which was attended by stakeholders drawn from different economic sectors. The meeting was meant to discuss the establishment of the Economic Empowerment Policy, which replaces the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.
Bulawayo businessman, Mr Davies Muhambi, said while attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was a noble initiative, local direct investment should take centre stage.
“Government should play a role in developing local industries. We have come out of the history where we know that FDI comes with conditions and some of the conditions will end up affecting our political environment,” he said.
“If there is a conflict here (Zimbabwe), they will tell you we are leaving without giving notice or time for you to prepare for their departure. To deal with that and because we are coming out of a period where most of the investments in the country were FDI-based, we have remained with a few industries that are local.”
Following the successful Land Reform Programme launched in 2000, the country was slapped with economic sanctions by the European Union because of the political tension between Britain and Zimbabwe.
“This has seen foreign investors pulling out their investments, which were heavily concentrated in different economic sectors, leaving the economy bleeding because of lack of local direct investment, said the participants.
Through the 2018 Finance Amendment Bill, Government has amended the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act and will replace it with the Economic Empowerment Act, which will be consistent with the country’s thrust of attracting increased FDI.
Participants said local direct investments were critical hence it was imperative for Government to give increased support to the locally-owned companies.
“So, it is very important that we develop local direct investment for the sustenance of this economy if we are to attain the upper middle income economy by 2030 that we are aiming at,” said another participant.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) chairman for Matabeleland region, Mr Godwin Muhoni, said the Land Reform and the Indigenisation programmes have come and gone but the missing link was a vibrant local industry.
“What needs to be done now is to make sure that our universities get involved in the dynamics of the economic turnaround and re-industrialisation of the country by fostering more of research and development to promote local direct investment,” he said.
Bulawayo Indigenous Business Association vice president, Mrs Violet Mhute, said while they welcome the review of indigenisation laws, women and youths were being sidelined when tendering for some of the national projects.
“We are politely requesting that whenever there are projects aimed at empowering locals, there must be a quota for women and youths to participate in economic development,” she said.
In an interview after the meeting, Zanu-PF secretary for indigenisation and economic empowerment, Dr Mike Bimha, said they have received input from various stakeholders and recommendations will be made to the party.
“We’re now in a position for us to actually concretise the input so that we can be able recommend the party to say this is the way we should be going in terms of our economic empowerment as we align it to Vision 2030 and the ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ mantra as well as the party manifesto,” he said.
“Once we get the approvals then we can start to implement and therefore we are happy that the contributions that we have received so far are very substantive and informative”. — @okazunga