IF there is anything that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s two year-old government has managed to do and pass with flying colours, it has been its complete disregard to set rules of engagement specifically concerning its commitment to opening up the country for business.
As we speak, the cookie is crumbling big time as all old and new business prospects wither due to the regime’s casual approach to serious matters that ought to shore up its efforts to easing the doing business environment.
A perfect example of government’s apathetic attitude is its failure to bring law and order in the countryside where land invasions continue to be the order of day since the launch of the land reform programme in 2000. This has now led to the country losing €16 million worth of funding for the development of infrastructure in one of Zimbabwe’s prime wildlife conservancies – the Lowveld’s Save Valley Conservancy, which is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
For failing to stick to the letter and spirit of an earlier pronouncement that new land invasions will no longer be tolerated, the government has now lost crucial funding which it cannot even afford to replace through own resources.
While officials in government would like to assure us that they are busy engaging the European Union (EU) to try and rescue the deal, the damage has already been done.
It is not only the EU deal that has been affected by land invasions; there are many local and foreign investment properties that are facing constant threats from unbridled individuals and gangs seeking to occupy their lands.
Examples include the Leopard Rock Hotel and a flourishing tea and macadamia enterprise, all in Manicaland province. Two decades of perpetual land invasions is not sustainable and hardly good for business.
Other individuals and families are currently being pushed off their lands silently, while Mnangagwa’s government turns a blind eye.
Zimbabwe cannot be termed open for business under such circumstances when both local and foreign investments are not guaranteed of any form of protection from marauding invaders.
The country can only be certified as open for business once investments are guaranteed of protection through the rule of law.
So it would be most prudent for the so-called new dispensation to resolutely commit to upholding the rule of law in 2020 for it to shore up any chances of endearing itself with both local and foreign investors.