Sunday, November 29, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: Investment Agreement Signed With South Africa

Zim, SA sign investment agreement

By Walter Muchinguri
Zimbabwe Herald

Zimbabwe and South Africa yesterday signed the much-awaited Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement that is set to unlock investment inflows into both countries.

Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister Elton Mangoma signed the agreement on behalf of Zimbabwe while South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Rob Davies, signed on behalf of his country.

The agreement, which comes after almost five years of negotiations, will now be presented to the parliaments of both countries for ratification before it comes into force.

There had been some attempts by a group of some South African farmers, who had wanted to secure an order to have the signing deferred on the basis that the agreement should include issues on security of tenure on land.

However, Dr Davies said the issue was settled out of court after it was discovered that there was no basis for applying for such an order and that the benefits of signing the Bippa to most of the South African businesses far outweighed the interest of the minority business grouping.

Speaking soon after the signing ceremony, Minister Mangoma paid tribute to all the people who had worked to ensure that the agreement was signed.

"Although the journey started in 2004, it took us nine months as an inclusive Government to have the agreement signed, the same time that it takes a baby to be born. So this is not a premature baby, it is one that has been carried to full term," the minister said.

Minister Mangoma said the focus was now on increasing trade volumes with South Africa to the levels of 10 years ago as well as looking at new ways of doing business.

He said that although South Africa and Zimbabwe signed the Bippa, the implications of the event were far-reaching and extended beyond the border of the two countries.

"This Bippa is not between us and South Africa only it signals that Zimbabwe is now ready to do business, it is also ready for investment and ready to take its place on the world stage.

"For those who were saying that how can Zimbabwe fail to sign an agreement with South Africa, its neighbour, and when both are in Sadc, this is a demonstration that we are working hard to improve investment inflows into the country," he said.

The minister said all the three political parties within the inclusive Government were committed to staying in Government.

"All that we are saying to each other is that we have an agreement let’s implement all that we have agreed to in that agreement.

"Will there be squabble? Yes, there will be because this is politics and in business that is what you call noise," he said.

Dr Davies said South Africa was committed to seeing the implementation of the Global Political Agreement and that the signing of the Bippa was one of the ways in which his country was working to ensure economic recovery in Zimbabwe as spelt out in the GPA.

"Contrary to the belief that this agreement will benefit South Africa alone, it will facilitate a two-way flow of investment into both countries," he said.

The estimated value of South African businesses operating in Zimbabwe in 2003 was US$619 million while that of Zimbabwean businesses operating in South Africa was US$154 million. He said South Africa was also eager to see Zimbabwe’s economy ticking again as the influx of refugees from the region, including Zimbabwe, was putting pressure in their job market where menial jobs were scarce with South African employers were electing to employ foreigners ahead of locals.

Dr Davies said the signing of the Bippa was important as it provided the security required by investors and that the Industrial Development Corporation and Development Bank of South Africa were ready to come in with money to support various projects in different sectors of the economy.

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said the signing of the agreement was a demonstration of 21st century Pan-Africanism rooted in the economy business and entrepreneurship.

"The prosperity and success of South Africa is not possible without the success of Zimbabwe and Sadc," he said.

He called on local companies to strive to go beyond their national outlook and assume a region and international identity by partnering other business within the region and abroad to enhance their businesses.

The DPM also called on local businesses and foreign investors not to wait on the sidelines as opportunities unfold.

"If you wait for the political risk to pass, by the time it passes, the economic benefits will have also passed," he said.

The signing of the Bippa is expected to manifest in various spin-of for both countries chief of which is to enhancing investor confidence by showing that Zimbabwe is a safe and viable investment location as it guarantees the safety of foreign investment.

Since South Africa is also the country’s largest trading partner, the Bippa will enhance economic corporation that will manifest in the increase of the volumes of trade between the two countries.

The signing also paves way for the finalisation of several other agreements between the two countries and other countries that are at different stages.


Fireworks expected at Politburo meeting

Sunday Mail Reporter

A POTENTIALLY explosive Zanu-PF Politburo meeting is scheduled for Wednesday this week with the party’s Manicaland Province claiming that the process to nominate the national chairman of the party was not done procedurally and should be revisited.

The province is claiming that there was a “misconception” in some provinces that the national chairman was supposed to come from Matabeleland and, as a result, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, was nominated by most provinces for the post.

The special Politburo meeting will also finalise the dates of the much-awaited national congress to be held in Harare.

Zanu-PF’s Secretary for Administration, Cde Didymus Mutasa, yesterday confirmed that the Politburo would meet on Wednesday to finalise the congress dates as well as discuss other issues including the nomination of the party’s national chairman.

“I can confirm that the dates had been provisionally set for the 16th to the 20th but the Politburo will meet on Wednesday and make the final decision. Preparations for the congress have gone on well to date and without any hitches.

“Everything is going according to plan. We are all gearing up for the congress, which we hope will be a successful one and will usher in a new Presidium and Central Committee members,” he said.

However, Cde Mutasa revealed that Manicaland Province wanted to engage the Politburo over the nomination process for the party chairmanship.

He said the nomination of party chairman was not done properly because some provinces held the misconception that the party chairman should originate from the Matabeleland Provinces.

“There is no written law in the party which states that the party chairman should come from the Matabeleland Provinces.

Manicaland Province therefore feels that the nomination for the chairmanship was not done properly. On the nomination date, some provinces altered and delayed their nominations and we feel that this was unfair,” he said.

Manicaland Province had nominated Cde Mutasa for the post of national chairman while Mashonaland Central had done the same before backtracking to throw its weight behind Cde Khaya Moyo.

Cde Mutasa said the Politburo would also discuss whether Cde Khaya Moyo would continue in his present role as Ambassador to South Africa in the event that he was confirmed as the party’s national chairman.

“The Politburo will look at whether Cde Khaya Moyo will continue to intertwine his new role with his diplomatic post. The nominated chairman is likely to attend the meeting and that is one of the issues we will discuss,” he said.

Cde Mutasa also explained that the battle for the nominations had not created any disunity but had proven that democracy existed within Zanu-PF.

“There is democracy in Zanu-PF and it is immature to say that the nominations created any divisions. There can be disagreements here and there but it is these disagreements that show that members have the freedom to express their concerns,” he said.

All provinces unanimously endorsed Cde Robert Mugabe as President and First Secretary of the party while Cdes Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo were nominated by the majority of the provinces for the two Vice Presidential posts. Cde Khaya Moyo was nominated by the majority of the provinces to serve as party chairman.

Meanwhile, most provinces have since completed their nominations for Central Committee members.


3 die, 4 injured as Zim plane crashes

Sunday Mail Reporter

THREE crew members died instantly and four others were injured when a Zimbabwean-registered cargo plane crashed as it took off at the main airport in Shanghai, China, yesterday morning.

The plane belongs to Harare-based Avient Aviation and was heading for Bishkek, the capital of the former Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan in central Asia.

All the three who died are United States citizens while a Zimbabwean was among the injured.

Reports last night indicated that the Zimbabwean, whose identity is still being withheld, was in stable condition. The other three injured are from Belgium, Indonesia and the US. The cause of the crash was not immediately established.

An official with Avient Aviation yesterday confirmed that the plane, a US-made McDonnell- Douglas MD11 freighter, crashed as it took off from Pudong International Airport in the Chinese commercial capital.

“The accident took place today (yesterday) in the morning and we have not yet established what caused it.

“After the crash, three American crew members were reported dead and there were four people who sustained injuries,” said the official at the company’s headquarters in Borrowdale, Harare.

“Those who were injured are from the United States, Belgium, Indonesia and Zimbabwe,” she added.

“At the moment, we are withholding the name of the Zimbabwean involved but I have been assured that he is now in a stable condition.”

The official said that they were now getting assistance from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) to determine what could have caused the accident.

“We have met officials from CAAZ so that they assist us in carrying out investigations on what caused the accident.

“Our senior management is on their way to China to also determine what caused the crash and also to meet with those involved in the crash,” said the official.

She said this was the first time that one of their aircraft had been involved in an accident.

Avient Aviation is based in the country and has been specialising in air cargo services since 1993.

According to a Press statement later published on the company’s website, the accident took place at approximately 00:16 GMT.

“An Avient Aviation-operated aircraft was involved in an accident at approximately 00:16 GMT today while the aircraft, a McDonnell-Douglas MD11 freighter, was operating a charter freight flight from Pudong International Airport in China. The aircraft was carrying a crew of seven.

“At this time, the full resources of Avient’s accident response team have been mobilised and will be devoted to co-operating with all authorities responding to the accident,” reads part of the statement.

Recent crashes in China include two Chinese air force jets that collided in June 2008 in Inner Mongolia, with both pilots parachuting to safety. In June 2006, a Chinese military plane crashed in eastern Anhui province, killing all 40 people on board.


Government committed to gender equality

Sunday Mail Reporter

THE Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Mrs Evelyn Masaiti, says Government is committed to ensuring gender equality in the country.

Officially opening the Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN) Annual Stakeholders’ Workshop in Kadoma last week, she said the ratification of the Sadc Protocol on Gender and Development was ample evidence of the steps authorities were making in this direction.

She said gender equality was important as studies have shown that initiatives tailor-made to economically empower women lead to higher rates of economic growth.

“Gender budgeting is a tool used to ensure that Government budgets, policies and programmes address the needs and interests of different social groups,” she said.

“The goal of the programme is not only in itself the achievement of gender equality but also for increased economic growth and development. Therefore, as we seek ways of economic rehabilitation and national development, gender responsive budgeting has become more crucial.”

The deputy minister commended efforts by the Office of the President and Cabinet, the Ministry of Finance and her ministry to respond positively to gender-related issues.

The workshop drew various participants among them, parliamentary representatives.


Why I back indigenisation

By Jonathan Kadzura
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

IN his wisdom, President Mugabe created a ministry to oversee and ensure that the local previously disadvantaged people take advantage of their local economy.

The ministry, in my view, was created to ensure that many youths take advantage of their God-given resources to better their livelihoods.

The ministry, to its credit, crafted what is now law on indigenisation. In their wisdom the ministry registered a number of pressure groups to accelerate economic indigenisation in Zimbabwe.

We now have the Indigenous Business Women Organisation of Zimbabwe, the Indigenous Business Community, and a few other pressure groups.

We also have the Small Miners’ Association that overlooks the local mining interests of the small-scale mining members.

It would appear to me that Government has over the years demonstrated its will and indeed ability to ensure that the previously disadvantaged indigenous people of Zimbabwe are given the opportunity to now rise and shine. But are they?

Let us agree on certain things, President Mugabe can never come and tell me to individually wake up and go out there to enrich myself and my people.

The President can never come and work on my fields, neither can he ever tell me or whisper in my ears about the opportunities arising in our economy. All he can do is to ensure that the economic playing field is level and square to all. This the President has done.

I have a huge doubt about the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment and the various indigenisation pressure groups we have in Zimbabwe.

I have problems with these instruments. Are these instruments for the youth of this country or for those who run and manage them?

I am well over 30 years old, so that by Zanu-PF definition, I am not a youth anymore.

After we are all gone there will still be a Zimbabwe. Are we managing to create the Zimbabwe we need? I should shudder to imagine.

It is late at night, I shudder to sleep because I am afraid to dream of our future if we do not indigenise now.

President Mugabe has fought all his life, to make you and I a better entity, but surely he has been let down. As Zimbabweans, we should be determined to ensure that this vision is achieved sooner rather than later. Politics is about serving the people.

Sadly most of those who have surrounded the President have found it fit to serve themselves first before empowering the people. That is not politics; it is selfishness. Selfishness has the tendency to curl and strike itself.

I have listened enough times to the young people who tell me now and again that they have been chased out of their little shops because rents were hiked or Zesa bills have become unaffordable.

As a result, most shops have now been sub-divided into little holes in order to accommodate more traders who can afford high rentals.

I have not heard a whisper from all these pressure groups or the Ministry of Indigenisation, about suggested solutions to these local hardships.

President Mugabe led the way by putting the Indigenisation Act in place, and now we must also ask him to evict a foreigner from our own building. RUBBISH. In my view, retail business under US$500 million worth of investment must be left to the indigenous people of Zimbabwe.

For all those foreigners, who would like to get involved in retail, in my view, they should be given land to develop. The piece of land will be theirs, the building will be theirs, but at the end of it all, they will have added real value to our economy.

When they choose to go they may, if they wish, sell the property or lease it. The net winner in this case will be Zimbabwe because of the added value on the land.

Surely, we do not need investors who come here to just sell sugar and Mazoe. For clarity, indigenous Zimbabweans must be given the right to all retail business under US$500 million investment.

All those who would like to get involved in retail, in my view, should be given land to develop.

The President has done it all for us, but we need the easy way out. The easy way out is recolonisation. Already that path is set and some of us are already treading on it. Ask me, I will tell you.

In my view, all those elbowed out of their businesses because of high rentals and high electricity bills must, as a matter of urgency, demand a hearing with the ministers responsible.

The President, in my view, is clear about the indigenisation theory, not as a slogan but a reality.

I would like to hear from the ministry and the pressure groups about their response to the ordinary traders who are now forced to the Mupedzanhamos because they cannot afford the town rentals anymore or perhaps forced to trade from a small upstairs shop where there is no passing trade because some foreign person who can afford high rentals has come to take over the passing trade.

As usual, I am just opening a public debate on rentals, nature of investments and the role of the Ministry of Indigenisation and the various pressure organisations we have in Zimbabwe.

Are these instruments proactive or reactive only when something triggers them to be heard? I deserve a reply, and detailed action plan on indigenisation.

I am aware of the ongoing plan to have 51 percent localised investment in all foreign corporates. I support the view, but that will not create new wealth or new employment but simply create a probable new class of Western capital parasites that can tomorrow grow to help recolonisation.

We must be wary of the Ides of March. Already, enough has been witnessed about who is or are there as the indigenous people of this great Zimbabwe.

Whatever methodology finally comes out must favour the poor and not the rich.

Again, it is a Sunday, time for the family. Enjoy yours as I enjoy mine.

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