Essar, Zisco deal exposes govt double standards

HARARE - The recent collapse of the $750 million Essar deal to revive Ziscosteel exposes the Zanu PF-led government’s double standards when dealing with foreign investors.

The deal, which was consummated in 2011 and celebrated as the biggest, post-independence transaction marking Zimbabwe’s turn into an international investment destination, collapsed spectacularly recently due to dithering and policy inconsistencies in government.

If President Robert Mugabe’s administration — filled with corrupt and selfish officials — had been more understanding and appreciative of Essar Africa’s efforts, we are confident that by now Zisco could have been kicking and so would be the whole of Midlands.

The same treatment that was accorded to Aliko Dangote, one of Africa’s wealthiest business people, where all Cabinet ministers and their underlings made a beeline to help expedite his investments in Zimbabwe, should be extended to every potential investor.

However, by keeping the Indians out of Zimbabwe because one or two ministers did not get a kickback, we are setting a bad precedent to future investors and that is one of the reasons why the country keeps getting a low share of foreign direct investments in Africa.

For instance, Sub-Saharan Africa received close to $80 billion in foreign investments with large chunks going to neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia, while Zimbabwe only received $543 million.

Our biggest problem in Zimbabwe is the arrogant and pretentious Zanu PF government which never learns from its mistakes.

Only last year, the country’s diamonds valued at over $45 million were seized in Belgium by a South African company, Amari Platinum,  over lack of compensation of their seized farms and a platinum concession that was unilaterally cancelled by the Zimbabwe government a few years ago.

Although government — including the nonagenarian leader — has consistently said it was committed to lure foreign investors, its actions speak louder than words. In all fairness, which foreign investor would want to come and pour their hard-earned money into a country where Cabinet ministers sing from different hymn books on a single issue of indigenisation?

What guarantee is there that after one has invested his money into agriculture, then some rudimentary war veterans or an avaricious and acquisitive Zanu PF official would not come and take over the project under the guise of land reform? Zimbabwe is known internationally for not respecting property rights and violating several bilateral agreements we have signed with different countries.

As such, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the $4 billion mega deals signed between Zimbabwe and China and the $3 billion platinum deal signed with Russia will not come to fruition unless there is leadership renewal in the country.

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