Yesterday, The Herald reported that several government bodies and departments had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for them to collaborate and create a single window facility to operate the country’s ports with the purpose of making it easier and faster for businesses to import and export into and out of Zimbabwe. The government arms involved are: Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), Environmental Management Agency (EMA), Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA), Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) (known on the streets as Torai Mari United), Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) and several other ministries.
This comes as a response to a recent World Bank report which viewed the Government of Zimbabwe as still lagging far behind in implementing the necessary reforms for the ease of doing business. Zimbabwe only has 3 months left to rectify this as the World Bank’s Doing Business Index 2018 data collection will begin next February. In the 2017 report, Zimbabwe was recognised as a reformer but dropped from number 157 to 161 out of 190 countries in the Doing Business report. Zimbabwe is now the worst-ranked country in the entire Southern Africa region. World Bank’s Program Manager for Southern Africa Mr Daniel Kobina said: “It must be noted that a culture of reform must be incorporated into the National Policy first before doing anything else. It is not enough to just pass laws but laws must be implemented…” This summaries the Zimbabwe government’s culture of so much talk with no action on the ground. The government, which is full of Phd holders (honorary, paid-for and otherwise) mind you, has many brilliant ideas which are executed poorly with politicians looking at lining their pocket on all “deals” that pass through their desks.
Recently, a delegation from a Switzerland SME umbrella organisation, visited Bulawayo to explore investment opportunities existing in various sectors of the country’s economy and said the investment climate was not conducive for business. Head of the delegation, Mr. Martin Suhr, told NewsDay last week that: “At the moment, the climate for investment has to be created carefully … and a framework and conditions have to be set in a way that the lender or partner has the security of a majority shareholdership, security of stay in the company and so forth, so that you can export and return the money.”
South African President, Jacob Zuma echoes the same sentiments yesterday when addressing the Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) launch in Harare where he said: “Our (South African) business community stands ready to play their party if, as government, you improve the ease of doing business and policy certainty.” This was Zuma’s politically correct way of telling the Zimbabwe government to put their affairs in order in order to attract South African investors to the country.