Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (ZimSEZA) has been called upon to rise to the occasion and ensure all bottlenecks that frustrate implementation of the Special Economic Zones in the country are speedily removed.
Participants at the breakfast meeting on Special Economic Zones held at a local hotel in Bulawayo yesterday said the authority needs to deal with bureaucracy, which was cited as a major barrier that could stifle attraction of investors in areas designated as SEZs.
Business Economic Empowerment Forum president Mr Sam Ncube said business in the past has noted impediments to do with bureaucracy as derailing the implementation of programmes meant to promote economic growth.
“Can you (ZimSEZA) give us assurance that business people can now start working on SEZs because in Zimbabwe there is a problem of explicating? People talk, but when it comes to action or implementation it becomes another story. So are you saying that you have synchronised everything, (ministries, the country’s border posts) or you are just bringing something that is half baked?” he said.
Last year Government appointed former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Dr Gideon Gono as ZimSEZA board chair but the authority is yet to become fully operational. Dr Gono has said once the regulations and incentives (specifically the non-fiscal incentives) are promulgated, the authority will begin approving projects that were on hold.
An official from Flamelily Investment Capital Group Mr Nkosana Mnkandla said potential investors were demanding guarantee that once they invest in Zimbabwe they are able to repatriate profits back to their respective countries.
“Unless we solve those fundamental issues we will have problems with regards to attracting foreign direct investment into the country. High licencing fees is also another thing that drives us away as investors.
“If I were to invest in either Zimbabwe or Botswana, I will choose a country which does not charge too many fees and does not have too much bureaucracy,” he said.
Property owners in Bulawayo also demanded to know from the ZimSEZA the direct benefits they will get from leasing their properties such as land to SEZs investors. An official from ZimSEZA Mr Wilfred Motsi assured participants at the meeting that SEZs were ready for implementation.
“The enabling environment to tap into the SEZs concept is now in place and the authority has come up with a number of incentives to attract investors,” he said.