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President Mnangagwa's Report Card - The First 100 Days

13 Mar 2018 at 19:52hrs | Views
Part 2: Foreign Affairs & Foreign Direct Investments
President Mnangagwa during his inauguration issued some major foreign policy promises. He said "Government will immediately start on a journey to re-engage with those who have punished us through sanctions." He also promised that his administration will set the right economic tone in its first 100 days in office to signal "Zimbabwe is open for business" and attract the right Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) to boost the economy. After 100 days in office, what has his administration achieved, and what could be yet to come?
A. Foreign Affairs
On foreign affairs, Mnangagwa has been a dynamo, setting himself apart from his predecessor who had a toxic foreign policy that resulted in isolation of Zimbabwe. President Mnangagwa has brought a number of changes in tone in dealing with the wider world – and these changes are significant.
Regional Cooperation
We first caught a glimpse of Mnangagwa's foreign policy ambition when he invited notable SADC current and former heads of states to his inauguration including, Rory Stewart Britain's Minister of State for Africa. Mnangagwa signaled his intention to make relations with Zimbabwe's neighbors a priority through paying courtesy calls on South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, DRC, Angola, and Namibia. Recently President Mnangagwa ended a decade-long impasse on the US$259 million Kazungula rail and road bridge project. A deal that failed to get traction in a decade of poisoned relations with former president Mr Robert Mugabe.
Government has started courting its nationals in the Diaspora to invest back home. The President has been on a diplomatic offensive. He met Zimbabweans in the diaspora in South Africa and Namibia. The NRZ - DIDG - Transnet deal spearheaded by Zimbabwean Diasporas based in South Africa, signalled governments seriousness in recognizing diasporas.
International Cooperation
Over the first 100 days, President Mnangagwa dedicated considerable time in meeting foreign delegations. He flummoxed everyone by swiftly accepting an invite to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos. World leaders and potential investors were keen to meet Mnangagwa and build up economic ties with Zimbabwe. Mnangagwa has also signaled his wish to rejoin the commonwealth. He would be in China sometime in April on a similar mission.
Thumbs Up
 - Government immediately started on a journey to re-engage with those who have punished us through sanctions.
 - Zimbabwe has certainly acquired a positive image in Africa and abroad.
 - Confident participation on the global stage.
 - Mnangagwa's visits to SADC nations and to Switzerland have been well-received.
 - Using embassies to attend fora, instead of delegations travelling from Zimbabwe.
 - Government reinforcing the arrears clearance framework - Lima Plan.
Thumbs Down
 - Extension of targeted sanctions by USA.
 - The domestic agenda is voluminous and this limits what the new Government can achieve in foreign policy.
 - No foreign policy vision document or a white paper or strategy report has been issued by the new Government.
B. Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs)

President Mnangagwa has been a refreshing and prolific practitioner in attracting FDI. The signals sent so far are positive and give the assurance that more FDI is on its way. The government has claimed receiving $3 billion worth of FDI commitments.
Thumbs Up
 - Assurance that all foreign investments will be safe in Zimbabwe. Government will abide by the terms of bilateral investment promotion and protection agreements.
 - Amending the controversial indigenization and Empowerment Act, and confine the 51/49 to diamonds and platinum.
 - Developing the necessary basic infrastructure such as water, ICT, power, road, and rail transportation, amongst others.
 - Establishment of economic zones will be accelerated in order to attract investment and increase exports.
 - Exempted power generation projects from Corporate Income Tax for the first 5 years of operation.
 - Zimbabwe Investment Centre to take advantage of online services so that it becomes a one-stop-shop.
 - RBZ is working on a legal framework to operationalize the establishment of an offshore financial service centre within the context of the SEZ programme.
 - RBZ established Diasporans Investment Desk.
 - RBZ allowed Zimbabweans in the diaspora to open Diaspora Investment Accounts with local banks of their choice. The accounts are entitled to a 7% Diaspora Remittance Incentive from the RBZ over and above the interest offered by the bank.
 - Provide 7% tax-free savings bonds on non-resident transferable funds that cannot be immediately remitted as a result of the current foreign currency shortages.
 - Government is undertaking to institute measures to strengthen the legal standing of offer letters and 99 year leases.
 - Reviewed downwards mining ground rental fees in retrospect from US$3 000 to US$225 per hectare per annum.
 - On-going initiatives spearheaded by the Office of the President and Cabinet, in creating a conducive environment under the ‘Ease of Doing Business' reforms.
Thumbs Down
 - Progress in attracting FDI is being made, but progress is never as fast as people hope and expect.
 - Zimbabwe's ability to attract foreign investors is badly frustrated by the high cost of doing business, erratic electricity supplies, high taxes and a poor transport infrastructure.
 - President Mnangagwa should intensify external engagement and capitalize on the great interest from international community to invest in Zimbabwe.
 - He should continue with the investment tours across many parts of the world.
 - Foreign Ministry must ensure that they get deliverables from these visits and not just photo opportunities.
 - For the foreign policy to succeed Government needs to rally support at home, acquire broad political consensus and institute reforms to attract and then keep foreign investments.
 - President Mnangagwa need to calibrate policy towards the powerful nations and investors, and lay down red lines. This will prevent agreements and deals that exploit us and our natural resources.

Source - Vusi Nyamazana
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