Give Zimbabweans in the diaspora same incentives as foreign investors-Parliament says

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The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and Industry says Zimbabweans in the diaspora wishing to invest in the country must be given the same incentives as foreign investors.

“As it is now, the money which is coming in; these are just remittances which are for domestic use, we now need money for our industrial development,” Committee chair Kindness Paradza said.

“For that, we need the government to come out with clear incentives which are the same as those given to foreign investors through FDIs. We need that for our own Zimbabweans.”

Zimbabweans, especially in South Africa, have expressed keen interest to invest in the development of the country and are already involved in revamping the National Railways of Zimbabwe.

They have also expressed interest in investing in Air Zimbabwe.

“The government must also come up with a clear Diaspora Policy with incentives. In other words, we need to incentivise our Zimbabweans who are either working or staying abroad so that it is attractive for them to come and reinvest here in Zimbabwe,” Paradza said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa who has already been to Mozambique, Namibia, Angola and Ethiopia is urging Zimbabweans abroad to invest in business at home.

He told Zimbabweans in Ethiopia that his administration is not going to stall projects just because Zimbabweans are not ready or do not have the money to invest.

Full contribution:

HON. PARADZA: I rise to present a report for two ministries of Foreign Affairs and Industry. I am going to marry the two in terms of my preamble because their operations are sort of intertwined.

From our observation, Zimbabwe right now has a broken brand and needs some rebranding. These budgets were done before these ministries were configured and therefore, my Committee urges the Minister to have a re-look at the whole budget to make sure that he factors in the rebranding and also the new mandates. For example, in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; there is now a new responsibility to do with international trade but the budget does not cater for that. We are happy though that you allocated $49 million to the Ministry from last year’s $35 million.

However, as I have said before, you did not take into account a lot of work which is going to be done in terms of rebranding Zimbabwe and re-engagement with the international community. The President was very clear when he said that Zimbabwe is now 17 years behind. Therefore, we need to catch up. In order to catch up, we need to hire some consultancy to make sure that we rebrand Zimbabwe.

My Committee also observes that there is confusion within the two ministries because they did not have clear mandates. The Office of the President (OPC) did not give them clear mandates when they came to present the budget to us. There is still some kind of nostalgia about the old regime. They do not appear to fit into this new dimension where the President is now talking about a new dispensation. That needs to be done as soon as possible. We are happy that the Executive saw it fit to remove the Department of International Trade from Industry and put it to Foreign Affairs. Foreign Affairs already has the structures. We have missions across the globe and we can use these missions to make sure that we re-engage, rebrand and assist in attracting FDIs and also to mobilise our diasporans to make sure that they come and invest home. We are saying that as soon as possible, OPC must make sure that this department is removed from the Ministry of Industry.

In terms of our recommendations, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development, because it has some added responsibilities has been given the mandate to run the Indigenisation Department and also the Enterprise Department which used to be the SMEs. This work is what is needed right now if we are to improve this economy within the 100 day period.

We recommend that the Ministry comes up with programmes for domestic resource mobilisation with clear investment strategies. For example, we can have Zimbabweans who are locally based pulling their resources together and buying into the available companies. We have an example of what happened with NRZ – these are Zimbabweans who have invested in the NRZ and also the Government and the Ministry must put into practical use the new Indigenisation Policy and look for serious investors to resuscitate strategic industries such as ZISCO, NRZ, Hwange Colliery, David Whitehead, CSC and others. The Government must also come up with a clear Diaspora Policy with incentives. In other words, we need to incentivise our Zimbabweans who are either working or staying abroad so that it is attractive for them to come and reinvest here in Zimbabwe.

As it is now, the money which is coming in; these are just remittances which are for domestic use, we now need money for our industrial development. For that, we need the Government to come out with clear incentives which are the same as those given to foreign investors through FDIs. We need that for our own Zimbabweans.

The department of Enterprise Development, as I said, these are for SMEs and should come up with programmes which will help the informal sector and make sure that this sector graduates from being small enterprises to become big industries and businesses. This should be our focus now in the next 100 days. The Government, through the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development should also identify priority areas as the pillars and engines of growth and provide the necessary support.

Mr. Speaker, there is another issue of IDC, which has sort of lost its mandate. The Minister was saying we must assist in liquidating IDC debts and has allocated $7 million towards a bottomless pit. We are saying no, instead of giving that money to IDC to liquidate part of its debt, that $7million, Hon. Minister must be given to – ( Hon. Gonese having been speaking to the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Planning) – please do not disturb the Minister, we want him to listen. That money, the $7 million must be given to the Special Economic Zones to make sure that they work.

The Zimbabwe Investment Authority Act must be aligned to fit the new dispensation. Right now we are told that so many companies have come and projects have been approved but we do not know how many were rejected and for what reason. So, it must be clear. This Act is now going to be under the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development. So, the Ministry has been given a huge mandate; that is why we were saying that the Department of International Trade must be taken away from them so that they concentrate on making sure that our domestic economy is resuscitated.

We have the issue to do with the One Stop Shop; this was introduced during the GNU and the former President opened this during Hon. Mashakada’s time but nothing has happened. So, we are saying that this is high time within these 100 days to make sure that this is resuscitated so that investors come to a single desk and ensure that they get the licensing withing five days. You know the Dangote issue, where is he now? He has gone because of these issues where there is a lot of bureaucracy. This is no longer needed in this new trajectory. The National Competitive Commission’s role must be redefined to make sure that it suits into this new thinking.

In terms of Foreign Affairs, as I said, we are happy that the Department of International Trade is now part of them and the new thrust must be – this has been said by His Excellency that we must now shift from political diplomacy to economic diplomacy. This must be intensified, that is why I was calling on the Minister to increase that budget so that we retrain our ambassadors, men and women who are manning our missions there so that they understand the mood we have here in order to improve our economy.

We are happy that the Minister talked about rationalisation of our embassies and this is going to save a lot. However, we must also think of opening up new frontiers. We are talking of businesses which can come from countries like Dubai and so on, to open up a consulate in Dubai. We have countries like Turkey, which are eager to invest in Africa and Zimbabwe is a proper destination because, as I said, our policies as enunciated by His Excellency are now clear. He talked about having free elections, the rule of law and zero tolerance to corruption. These alone are incentives, which we can now use as we look for Foreign Direct Investments.

Mr. Speaker, my Committee also recommends that the Ministry and other relevant Government Departments must draft a manual that captures this rebranding and reengagement of Zimbabwe. We must have a manual where even all the Hon. Members, if asked, will be able to say yes, here is the situation in Zimbabwe. In other words, it is what we call the elevator kind of approach…

Hon. Mukwangwariwa having left his seat to sit on the front bench was asked to go back to his seat by the Temporary Speaker.

HON. PARADZA: Mr. Speaker, as we discuss about our observation and recommendation as your Committee, Ministry Officials attend some meetings in foreign lands; these are good summits but within these 100 day period, we must have a conference on Zimbabwe to make sure that we attract investment where we are going to invite potential investors to come here. We can have that conference here or elsewhere in Europe or Asia.

Mr. Speaker, the Government should allow the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation to engage the services of brand trade and investment experts. I was talking to Hon. Minister Chinamasa about rebranding and reengagement but we need experts to do this. As Zimbabweans we cannot do it, so we need experts and money to fund that so that we can hire consultants to help us in this.

In line with the new trajectory Mr. Speaker, the Government should redefine its foreign and trade policies in order to establish the country’s global trade priorities and pursue a robust, reciprocal, bilateral and multilateral trade, taxation and investment relations through regional and international trade agreements.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, your Committee is of the view that the time is now for us as Zimbabweans to make sure that we come together and improve our economy. The world is continuously changing and does not wait for Zimbabwe. Therefore, what is needed is to do all these things with speed. To this end Mr. Speaker, your Committee welcomes the stance taken by His Excellency to work with all countries which are interested in doing business with Zimbabwe. It is no longer the Look East Policy now. We must now look everywhere for those countries which have the capacity to work with us here in order for us to improve our economy.

As a Committee, as I said, we want to thank Hon. Minister Chinamasa for increasing this year’s budget and we are grateful for that. I want to conclude with this quote from Warren Buffet who is a United States of America investment tycoon. He says, ‘Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago’. That is what we should do Minister. I thank you.