Policy inconsistency, our own undoing

HARARE - With global foreign direct investment topping $1,46 trillion last year, according to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Zimbabwe’s share was a meagre $410 million in 2013.

Neighbouring Mozambique attracted inflows of $7,1 billion, up 30 percent from the 2012, South Africa being the top recipient, attracting $10,3 billion of $56 billion channelled towards Africa.

Key to Zimbabwe’s short coming, has been its policy inconsistency, be it the current indigenisation drive or recapitalisation of the banking sector.

The latest decision by the country to solely grant Egyptian national flag carrier, EgyptAir concessions has not helped our case either.

According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), EgyptAir which had announced plans to suspend flights to the country and already a beneficiary of a 50 percent discount on landing and navigation charges for the 2014/2015 season courtesy of the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz), will be granted further discounts.

Government has gone further for the airline and revealed that it will engage its Tanzanian counterparts to facilitate the granting of the fifth freedom to EgyptAir — after it had also mentioned its failure to secure traffic right from the country — was affecting the sustainability of the route.

Fair and fine, this will allow locals working for the carrier to keep their jobs and make the country more accessible, but where does that leave other carriers that are also battling with Caaz’s high landing fees.

Will the government come to their rescue and engage other nations to make their flights more viable or this is a special dispensation for the Egyptians only.

Last month, the Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) announced that it would stop operating flights to Lusaka and Harare effectively on October 26, 2014, four years after resuscitating the route.

The big carrier had over the years raised concern regarding the country’s high landing fees and no action was taken despite the flight giving Harare a direct access to Europe through Amsterdam and tapping into a huge tourism market which has the potential to drive growth in the sector.

What is key from all this is Zimbabwe needs to have consistent policies for players in each and every sector.

If EgyptAir is going to be given waivers by Caaz, then every airline that flies into the country should also benefit from the same waivers so that there is a level playing field in the industry.

Zimbabwe through its open skies policy aimed at attracting as many airlines as possible but this can only be possible if the Tourism ministry creates a favourable operating environment for all.

Since 2000, a total of 18 international airlines ceased flying into Zimbabwe and some are big names like Lufthansa, Qantas, Austrian Airlines, Swiss-air, Air India and Air France among others.

However, following the stabilisation of the economy in 2009 a total of 12 airlines have since resumed the Harare route.

Where do all this leave our struggling national carrier Air Zimbabwe? Your guess is as good as mine.


Comments (1)

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