Taurai Mangudhla Senior Business Reporter
BRITISH Labour Party politician and former Cabinet member Lord Peter Hain has hailed President Mnangagwa’s re-engagement with the international community, commitment to good governance and credible elections under the new political dispensation.
The re-engagement effort, says Lord Hain, brings the country back on the global map and will open foreign capital streams.
Lord Hain, who served under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown was recently appointed advisor and ex-officio board member to one of the largest foreign investors in Zimbabwe — Moti Group — on Tuesday met President Mnangagwa, Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga, Kembo Mohadi and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo at a State House dinner on Tuesday.
Lord Hain said President Mnangagwa discussed his agenda for the country including how he intends to rejoin the Commonwealth, open up to the world, attract foreign investment and ensure there is good governance.
“As he says, he wants to make sure the elections are free and fair. He assured me that they would be free and fair. He told me that he would be inviting international observers not just from the SADC area, but from Europe and elsewhere to observe the elections and I think all that is very encouraging,” said Lord Hain in an interview with The Herald, adding 20 years of isolation had damaged Zimbabwe.
“Obviously there is a long way to go and Zimbabwe has been in a very bad place for the past 20 years with the people suffering economically and the reputation of the country being badly damaged abroad.
“For example, the President would like to re-apply to join the Commonwealth which will be good for Zimbabwe to be standing tall again instead of being an isolated nation as it was under President Mugabe. I was very encouraged,” he added.
He said progress on governance, election credibility and fighting corruption is the first step towards re-branding Zimbabwe positively and attracting international capital.
“The key thing is good governance so we are starting with the elections which the world is watching with interest because the world wants to support Zimbabwe. There are businesses which want to invest in Zimbabwe, but it starts with good governance and they are watching,” he said.
Lord Hain also discussed the potential for debt relief and agricultural support from International Financial Institutions, in particular Britain, after credible elections.
He proposed that Zimbabwe takes advantage of its climatic conditions to establish solar power projects and provide electricity in remote areas with a view to improve communication, education and health services.
He also noted the potential for massive water purification and conservation projects to maximise value on the country’s resources.
He also hailed President Mnangagwa for opening his door to the world and taking ideas and constructive criticism from everyone with a view to improve the livelihoods of his people.
“This is my first visit to Zimbabwe. I was not made welcome here by former president Robert Mugabe who attacked me and criticised me and I am very pleased to be here in what I think is a new dawn for Zimbabwe to try and encourage that, support it.
“As an advisor of the Moti Group, which is the biggest foreign investor in Zimbabwe at the moment, I want to help build good relations with the people of Zimbabwe so that’s why I am here,” he said.
Lord Hain is expected to meet Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando to discuss Moti Group’s further investment plans in Zimbabwe..
“The Moti Group is, through ACF, is expanding its investment and therefore, creating more jobs. We are around 1 500 and we are going up to 2 000 very soon and there will be more jobs created after that. This is all being done absolutely transparently, Moti Group pays taxes, there is full accountability and obviously that’s important to me so we will be discussing other areas where Moti Group might consider moving into investing in Zimbabwe as well,” Lord Hain he said.
His strategy for the Moti Group is premised on ensuring the company creates more jobs in Zimbabwe, bringing prosperity to shareholders and the community.