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Zimbabwe Investment Authority snubs diaspora demands

by Byo24NEWS
12 Jan 2011 at 13:58hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) has rejected demands by Zimbabweans in the diaspora to implement diaspora-specific special concessions and tax-cuts to attract them to unlock fresh investments into the ailing economy.

Top government officials, including ZIA chief executive officer, Richard Mubaiwa, dug in their heels at a diaspora investment conference in Victoria Falls in December, emphasising that while the country desperately needed investment, the power-sharing administration would not tolerate inducements and dictates by Zimbabweans in the diaspora for special treatment.

About 150 Zimbabweans living across the globe attended the conference, organised by the Development Foundation for Zimbabwe (DFZ).

They appeared convinced that President Robert Mugabe's government was so desperate that it would dance to their whims.

ZIA has put in place several incentives, including a 15 percentage point reduction in corporate tax to 10 percent per annum for new manufacturing projects during the first five years of operation.

The authority has said investments at growth points will attract a 50 percent reduction in corporate tax during the first five years.
Corporate tax in Zimbabwe is calculated at 25 percent.

These incentives have already reduced potential State revenue inflows.

But the DFZ delegates, who spent the week vowing their commitment to complementing economic recovery efforts back home, ignored this empirical fact, instead sticking to their individualistic western-style capitalist ideology, which has already exploded into significant social exclusion in impoverished Zimbabwe, and across Africa.

Mubaiwa told the DFZ conference that Zimbabwe would not violate standing policies to accommodate their demands.

"Investment policies should not be discriminatory," Mubaiwa said at the opening of the conference.

"We cannot say these are policies for Zimbabweans in the diaspora, and these are polices for other investors.

"The benefit that you will get is the return on your investment. You have already mentioned it yourselves that Zimbabwe is a high-return investment destination," he stressed.

But the diasporans, who sounded more like civic society activists than serious industrialists, were unconvinced.

They grilled State Enterprises Minister, Gorden Moyo, himself an offspring of the civic society, over the issue.

Moyo reinforced the ZIA stance.

"We treat all Zimbabweans equally when it comes to investment," he said.

"There is no differentiation in policy," pointed out the minister.

Exhibiting how completely out-of-touch most of them were with the Indigenous and Economic Empowerment Act, and even new discoveries like the highly publicised Methane Gas fields near Hwange, they demanded assurances that their capital would be safe from expropriation.

And instead of listening to a team of ministers, complemented by the ZIA boss, to outline investment opportunities on the market, they took turns to lecture the government officials on policies, most of which were already in place through the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme.

Their attitude provoked the ire of many, including Tendai Murisa; a researcher with the Harare-based African Institute for Agrarian Studies, who told them to deal with their "superiority complex".

The controversial empowerment law, which many of the diasporans took turns to denounce, does not affect them.

It was enacted to cede majority shareholding in foreign controlled companies for transfer to indigenous Zimbabweans.

But while exhibiting little or no business acumen, or evidence of having worked in top management positions in major companies and non-governmental organisations, the DFZ delegates showered the five-day talk show with out-of-this world investment proposals, including proposals to assemble power stations bigger than Hwange Power Station through borrowed funds from humanitarian organisations like the United Nations.

Except for a few, most of them didn't strike obsevers as serious investors with the pedigree and financial muscle to ship in plant and equipment, essentially needed to revive industries in Zimbabwe, but academics and post-graduate students gleaning information for their dissertations.

Unless they were proxies of real diaspora moguls tucked somewhere in the west, the DFZ team that explored opportunities in December were nothing but holiday makers who took advantage of donor-funded air tickets to return to their motherland.

Source - Byo24NEWS