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The departure of Stan Chartered: A case of Economic commitment

16 Apr 2022 at 19:56hrs | Views
Few days ago, the Standard Chartered bank closed all it's branches in Zimbabwe, except a few remaining as they wind up their 120 year journey in the southern African nation. This came as a surprise, a big blow not only to business , but vehemently a wake up call to our leadership in Zimbabwe. Surprisingly, the CEO of the bank appeared in Zambia with President Hichilema, announcing a 40 million deal, occupying a designated building as it's main Headquarters. We need to reflect as a nation, and see where we have gone wrong, and offer strategic home grown solutions around the current trajectory. This was a big blow to our country, considering job losses, foreign direct investment, revenue, the negative sentiments around the leadership, and the PR stance around " Zimbabwe is open for business mantra". What picture does it give to few potential investors who are willing to come and partner with Zimbabwe? I thought I can give few cents advice to the current trajectory. We had by elections recently, and what was the conclusion of those who are willing to do business with Zimbabwe? What about the debt obligation? Have we managed to repay the creditors? Recently, the Finance Ministry revealed that our debt stands at 19 Billion, and as moved from 14 Billion, and this means we have managed to borrow 5 billion without Parliamentary approval? How then do we report back to people about this obligation? We don't have a proper financial report concerning the debt obligation. How was the money used? Any form of agreements signed for acquiring the new debt? Do we have any proper debt restructuring framework? According to Financial Analysts, every Zimbabwean has a debt burden of $14 000 which must be paid in future.

We need to focus on the following :

1. Human rights obligation

We need to have a clean record, to attract new investors, and those who are trying to market our country will not have any hurdles around Zim agenda. We need to have proper human rights records, and we must show the world that we have changed the way we do business, before we sell this Zimbabwe is open for business mantra. Literally, we have a duty to practice what we preach, and it will be a waste of resources to go and knock doors in foreign lands, with blood on our hands.

2. Debt obligation

The procedure is before we borrow funds from any international creditors, we must seek permission from Parliament, and there must be legislative processes and back up to approve the loans. Surprisingly, the Finance Minister announced recently, we have a debt obligation of 19 billion, no explanation was given on how we have arrived on that figure. This will be a thorn in the flesh for investors, citizens, development partners and many other stakeholders how we managed to accrue to such a figure.

 Business Model to run Zim

We need a proper business model to run Zimbabwe. Who is carrying feasibility studies around our projects across all sectors of the economy? Are we doing the right thing? What are we getting from minerals we have in Zimbabwe? Those who are purported to be new investors, do have the proper skills, proper record to do business with Zimbabwe? Are we not mortgaging our country to dubious investors? What are we getting from our raw materials? Are we not exporting both labour, raw materials and semi- finished products to foreign lands? What are we getting from Belarusians in exchange of buses ? What are the implications of these deals? We have more than 85 minerals in Zimbabwe, and are we utilizing these resources in a proper manner? Recently, there were oil discoveries in Muzarabani area, and are we deploying strategic thinking, research and development on these areas of study? We need to invest in research and development, and the findings must be made Public, so that independent thinkers can put their input on our findings.

4. Policy clarity

Leadership must clear all inconsistencies regarding policy matters. Conflicting statements around policy matters is a blow to those who want to do business with Zimbabwe. We need a proper policy direction in all critical sectors of the economy, mining, Agriculture, Tourism, Industry/manufacturing, education, health etc. We need a Strategic investment conference to deal with gaps around investment opportunities.

5. Cutting expenditure

We have a bloated cabinet. We have more than 25 Ministers, deputy Ministers which may not even be necessary. Cabinet must be trimmed to 15 or the least to 18. We must do away with deputy Ministers. We can make use of permanent secretaries, or principal directors in line ministries. The resources can be channeled to health and education sector

6. Reduce foreign missions

We have too many embassies around the globe. There is need for Foreign Affairs Ministry to restructure the foreign mission, and remain with Strategic embassies. We have a huge bill around funding foreign missions, and some of these embassies have gone for months without salaries.

8. Advisory council must be trimmed to five people

President Mnangagwa has over 25 advisors, and this is a burden to the fiscus. It means every advisor needs perks, salary, allowances and can this be a sustainable development considering that our national treasury is bleeding, and hospitals have gone for months without drugs? Medical personnel needs decent salaries and proper housing plan?

9. PR team around Presidency

The team around those managing Presidency are not doing a good job . We have a low - weight approach around Presidency. During Mugabe's era, State House was a special place, and we could not witness what we are seeing today. I'm not sure if there is a proper vetting process being done , before meeting His Excellency. The recent Dubai expo meeting was not done properly, more Economic players would have been invited, and private sector would have played a key role on advisory, and it could have made a lot of sense with the involvement on business.

10. 2023 elections will be a litmus test

We have a burden as a nation ahead of harmonized polls in 2023. Potential investors, development partners, regional bodies, international community and creditors are sitting on the fence to either endorse or discredit the polls. We need to pay attention to key areas around the anticipated polls.

Last but not least, are we doing the right thing to preserve our integrity as a nation? Do we have proper Strategic Thinking around the current trajectory? Do we have the necessary personnel around Strategic key areas of governance? I suggest, we may need a reshuffle of ideas , and deploy strategy.

Dr Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo is the Head of Zimbabwe Institute of Strategic Thinking - ZIST, and can be contacted at

Source - Jacob Kudzayi Mutisi
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