FRANCISTOWN: Local businesspeople have been urged to keep their fingers crossed that the current volatile political situation in Zimbabwe turns out for the better.
Director of research and financial stability at Bank of Botswana (BoB), Dr Tshokologo Kganetsano said this at the bank’s economic briefing for the Francistown business community at Thapama Hotel recently.
“You should be closely watching the current developments in Zimbabwe with the hope that the situation will turn for the better. If the situation turns for the better you should be ready to tap into business opportunities that will open up in Zimbabwe.
“Entrepreneurs in the northern part of Botswana, especially those from Francistown, which is near Zimbabwe should take advantage of the business investment opportunities that will open up in Zimbabwe should the political situation there improve,” an optimistic Kganetsano said.
A few days after he was inaugurated as Zimbabwe’s President following the ouster of long-time leader Robert Mugabe in a military assisted coup, President elect Emmerson Mnangagwa told investors to come and invest in his country at the World Economic Forum (WEF).
He has also invited investors from around the world at different forums to come and invest in Zimbabwe saying that under his regime, economic and trade cooperation some of his major priorities.
Mnangagwa is admitting that Zimbabwe is lagging behind in many areas as a result of sanctions that were imposed on Mugabe’s regime by European countries and the United States.
He was quoted in one international publication saying his famous mantra: “We are now saying to the world, Zimbabwe is now open for business. To do so, it is necessary that we look at all the legislation, which has been constraining business coming into Zimbabwe, so that it is easy doing business in Zimbabwe.”
Mnangagwa stated that the controversial Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, was recently amended to attract business to Zimbabwe.
While Kganetsano implored local business people to invest in Zimbabwe if the political situation in the southern African country improves, investors may be hesitant to come to that country after the US extended sanctions on it.
US President Donald Trump signed into law the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment (Zidera) Act of 2018, which amends the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, and was introduced into Congress on March 22, according to various media publications.
Congress overwhelmingly approved the legislation, passing a measure that had outlined the steps Zimbabwe must fulfill for US-imposed sanctions to be lifted, namely the holding of ‘free and fair’ elections.
But the apparent olive branch was taken away soon after the crackdown on protesters was unfurled while the votes were still being counted in front of many observers, including those from the US, with the policy of rapprochement quickly replaced by hawkish calls in Washington for tougher sanctions on Harare if no halt to the crackdown was implemented.
Meanwhile, Kganetsano also revealed that the water and electricity sector registered negative growth following the closure of BCL and Tati Nickel mines. He said the sectors registered outgrowth of -19.5% in 2017 as compared to 95.2% in 2016. Kganetsano stated that for the past four years, the mining sector has not been performing well with the non-mining sector performing relatively well.
“Mining output fell by 11.2% in 2017 compared to a contraction of 3.5 percent in 2016. Non-mining gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 4.2 percent in 2017 as compared to 5.5 percent in 2016,” Kganetsano said.