PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government urgently need to start turning rhetoric into visible action if they want to attract meaningful foreign investment, a senior Germany official has said.

By Kennedy Nyavaya in Berlin, Germany

Stefan Oswald, the director-general for Sub Saharan Africa in the German Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ), on Thursday told journalists attending the International Journalists Programme winter school that the current administration has done little on the ground to prove commitment to policy reforms that they preach.

“The lyrics of the new Zimbabwe government are perfect, but what counts is to move from lyrics to action. Otherwise I cannot convince anybody over here to re-engage with Zimbabwe, and that is something which is really important,” Oswald said.

Mnangagwa’s economic restructuring agenda has been anchored on the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra since taking the reins from former President Robert Mugabe through a coup in November 2017.

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However, not much has been done to enforce ease-of-doing business as well as nipping corruption in the bud.
According to Oswald, Germany is ready to have meaningful developmental co-operation with the southern African country if the government embraces good governance principles that promote democracy, rule of law and human rights, among other fundamentals.

“In principle, the programmes presented by the President and his new Cabinet are good, but making it happen to convince us also that they are really serious about it is the difference we can talk about,” he said while suggesting that Mnangagwa needs to cut ties with the army.

“You can write nice papers, but if the political will is not there to really make it happen, there is a problem. The President has to go into discussion with those who brought him into power because the military is having a strong rule and they are not reform-minded.”

His sentiments come at a time Zimbabwe’s economy is in desperate need of foreign investment.

Efforts to engage the international community, particularly the West, appear to have hit a snag, owing mostly to the country’s failure to repay debts, abuse of human rights and political instability, which Oswald said could be reversed by opening “a multiple democratic space”.

“We think bit by bit, one has to create more openness for other political forces, otherwise things are not going to move forward,” he said.

Germany is one of the countries that Zimbabwe is highly indebted to, with a debt of close to a billion euros.