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ED’s vision a challenge to business community - Zimbabwe Today
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ED’s vision a challenge to business community


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On  July 15, 2015 after touring the Sunway City Integrated Park near Ruwa, the then vice President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, said: “I am going to Europe to attract huge companies to come and invest . . . I will be able to speak with vigour and clarity and attract major companies to come to Zimbabwe.”

Two days later he embarked on the international tour that he said was part of Government’s drive to attract investors.

Fast forward to January 24, 2018.

The man, now the President of Zimbabwe after change of guard in November 2017, was in the Swiss city of Davos where he was the toast of investors and he laid out his vision as clearly as ever.

He said: “On my day of inauguration, (24 November 2017) I mentioned economics and trade cooperation would be my priority in Zimbabwe, rather than politics, in order to catch up with the region.

“Zimbabwe has lagged behind in many areas as a result of isolation for past 16, 18 years. Now we are saying to the world: Zimbabwe is now open for business.

“To do so, we need to look at all the legislation that has been constraining business coming into Zimbabwe to improve the ease of doing business,” he said, citing the country’s land reform and indigenisation laws, which have forced international investors out of the mineral-rich country for many years.

President Mnangagwa, who was recently sworn in following his victory in the July 30 elections, has taken his “economics before politics” philosophy into the Second Republic.

This consistency before and after the Second Republic clearly shows that President ED is very clear with regards to obstacles that hindered economic progress of our country and knows the trajectory the country must take in order that we overcome the uphill task before us.

He has just set a paradigm of more economic engagement policies and less of political posturing.

Whilst a lot is expected from Government in terms of creating an investment- friendly and corrupt-free bureaucracy, it is important for the business community to brace itself for a serious transformation on how to do business.

The President has just thrown down the gauntlet to the business community.

What will follow from hence is a whole new culture and trajectory for the country.

The mentality of wanting to make a “quick” buck must be relegated to the old political dispensation where corruption was the order of the day. Gone will be the days when briefcase businesses flourished at the expense of tax-paying establishments. It will be about business ethics.

In his book “Theory of Moral Sentiments”, Adam Smith argues that “business ethics as a part of the Law on Sympathy appears as one of the factors that provide the invisible hand that operate properly”.

He further postulates that it is possible to assume business ethics as one of the components of the market mechanism.

Countries such as Turkey, which ranks among the top 18 powerful economies in the world, have shown empirical evidence that business ethics is an important determinant of economic growth of any given country and damaging it through unscrupulous and corrupt behaviour negatively affects the growth rate.

To this end, Government must therefore have a shared vision with business member organisations (BMOs) such as the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, National Business Council of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, etc, on how this unethical business scourge can be eradicated.

This animal called corruption that breeds unethical business practices must be nipped in the bud wherever it rears its ugly head.

Instead of Government being selective in its engagement and approach to the BMOs, it must understand the strength and political correctness of each and every one of these organisations. Once relationships have been established and synthesised, an aggressive nationwide business ethics awareness assault must be rolled out and lay bare all the facts that have retarded our economic growth and how that can be changed.

Government ministries, parastatals, local government authorities, the business community and all other stakeholders must be central to this initiative.

Also central to the President’s “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra is to make this country the most lucrative investment destination for international investors. Foreign direct investment is key to economic recovery of our country. Relationships with progressive countries allow for knowledge transfer on the international platform.

Zimbabwe is endowed with mineral wealth, human capital and friendly weather, an ideal place for investment.

For our economy to grow to unprecedented levels, it is of paramount importance that foreign companies must flourish alongside their local counterparts.

Government must therefore put in place mechanisms that allow for a win-win situation.

As it pursues FDI, Government, in partnership with business member organisations, must:

  1. Introduce basic standards of governance for successful business operations between foreign and local organizations
  2. Require and enforce standards of integrity, business ethics and efficiency
  3. Promote the establishment of a competitive and optimised business environment predicated on standards of excellence
  4. Initiate a parallel approach and find ways of incentivising local/domestic investors, as they are the inheritors of our sovereign state and independence.
  5. Reconstitute Government-run institutions that are critical such as Zimbabwe Investment Authority, Zimbabwe Investment Centre and ZimTrade so that they are in line with the new dispensation.

The clarion call by President Mnangagwa that Zimbabwe is open for business must not be understood in the context of investment opportunities only meant for foreign investors.

NO.

It is a call for active participation by the all Zimbabweans.

It is a call for Zimbabwean entrepreneurs and businesspersons to brace ourselves for the good times to come by conditioning and embracing business ethics that will allow our economy to stabilise, grow and flourish through international re-engagement.

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