SA business responds to Zimbabwe’s calls for investment

Frank Buyanga
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JOHANNESBURG – A South Africa based businessman, Frank Buyanga, has made an offer to the new Zimbabwe government to fund and capitalise Sovereign Wealth Fund, which he says can assist start-ups in that fledgling country.

The wealthy entrepreneur was responding to a call from the Zimbabwe government, which desperately needs investment to revive its comatose economy ruined by years of mismanagement under longtime ruler Robert Mugabe, 93.

Last month Emmerson Mnangagwa who took over the reigns from the ousted nonagenarian visited South Africa to woo investors. He met with Zimbabweans residing in South Africa as well as business persons with an interest in investing in Zimbabwe.

During the meeting, Mnangagwa implored Zimbabweans in the diaspora to assist their country to recover from 37 years of bad governance.

Zimbabwe, which is heavily indebted and has a very high unemployment rate estimated at more than 80 percent, has been unable to implement any Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF) that could help set up small-scale enterprises.

This week Buyanga said he had written to the Zimbabwe government to offer his assistance in setting up an SWF, which he said was much desired but never implemented because of a lack of funding.

Zimbabwe’s Macroeconomic Planning permanent secretary, Desire Sibanda, is on record as saying that the lack of funds had delayed implementation of the Sovereign Wealth Funds Act.

However, in the letter, Buyanga says: “As Africa Medallion Group, we want to be part of the new Zimbabwe by helping our SWF reach its goals and also get the necessary financial ability to do so”.

He said the Africa Medallion Group balance sheet had exceeded a billion rand in a relatively short period of time and was storing gold purchased and related material at local obtained secured vaults.

“As an entrepreneur, l am aware that at this moment, when the fiscus is stretched so thin and has nothing to spare, the practicality of SWF for Zimbabwe is then close to impossible,” said the businessman in his letter in which he added: “However, with our assistance together we can make it a reality.”

Last week the state-owned Herald newspaper reported that South African business tycoon Robert Matana Gumede had visited the country to cement a $1.2 billion investment deal in key sectors of the economy, which include infrastructure development, energy, health services, tourism and financial services.

The founder and executive chairman of Guma Group was quoted as saying: “I am happy to be here in Zimbabwe just to see what one can do in assisting the government in achieving its short-term goals of turning around the economy of the country”.

The Zimbabwe embassy could not be immediately reached for comment.