FULL TEXT: Prime Minister Tsvangirai Addresses Seminar on Public-Private Partnerships

Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara, Honourable Ministers, Business Leaders, Invited Guests:

I welcome this opportunity to speak with you today on the issue of creating Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to unlock the development potential of our nation and enhance the ability of this new Government to deliver much needed services to the people of Zimbabwe.

We are all aware of the devastating impact of the past decade of economic decline on Zimbabwe’s service delivery capacity and infrastructural base.

The key issue to consider is how we can best reshape our economic destiny to allow Government to meet the needs of our people through establishing an environment that encourages sustained economic growth and development. If we are to ensure sustained recovery in the shortest possible time, we will have to seek out and implement innovative approaches to sourcing the capital requirements needed for such a recovery.

As Government, our task is to ensure that the public sector delivers quality services such as health, education, clean water, efficient transport, communications and energy services. We cannot achieve this enormous challenge alone.

Zimbabwe’s economic stability requires access to foreign markets, finance, technologies, skills and ideas, which are only made possible by all the key stakeholders working together as partners committed to our nation’s development.

This is where the principle of Public-Private Partnerships has an important role to play. The funding of a government service or infrastructure development project through a partnership with one or more private sector companies, has the potential to increase the national capacity for delivery to the people.

This Government is committed to create opportunities and partnerships which will enable our people to benefit from the vast wealth potential which this country possesses.

In this, we are open to, and actively investigating, the viability of various types of PPPs and we welcome the initiative of this seminar to define a clear strategy for successful PPP implementation in Zimbabwe.

While the principle of Public-Private Partnerships is sound, the success of these ventures is dependent on principled policy development to ensure that citizens are availed of the best quality services at affordable prices. In many countries, PPPs have failed to live up to this requirement and it is our duty, both as Government and as the Private Sector, to learn from the mistakes of others in order to avoid them ourselves.

I firmly believe that Zimbabwe today offers sound investment opportunities for the private sector, but as Government, it is our duty to ensure that the welfare of our citizens remains the priority in the implementation of PPPs.

Thus, it is striking the balance between the interests of our citizens and the need to attract capital investment that is the primary challenge of this seminar.

Ladies and Gentlemen, rebuilding our shattered economy is a priority for every Zimbabwean and it must be driven by the private sector. However, what the private sector is able to achieve will be dependent on the leadership role played by your Government.

The role of Government is to provide a stable environment that facilitates the growth and development of business in line with international standards and accepted norms that also serve to ensure the rights and welfare of employees.  

In creating such an environment, restoring the rule of law is both a moral imperative and a business necessity. The rule of law provides the foundation of confidence for contractual dealings and investor activity without which no economy can run effectively nor viable PPPs be established.

Only through restoring the rule of law can we remove the uncertainty of doing business in Zimbabwe and restore investor confidence.

The restoration of the rule of law is also an essential factor in attracting back to our country the millions of Zimbabwean economic exiles who have the education, skills and determination essential to reviving our ailing economy.

The role of my Government in the national economy remains that of creating an enabling environment for business and labour to engage in the actual production and output of goods and services.  We are in the process of formulating and implementing policies and regulations to enhance business confidence and wealth creation.

As a nation, we face the challenge of demonstrating to the rest of the world a politically mature Zimbabwe that can offer greater opportunities for economic prosperity, political stability and poverty alleviation. An economy that does not benefit its citizens can neither guarantee political stability nor real harmony.

Zimbabwe is part of the global economy and as such we are seeking to harness financial, technological and market opportunities, which grow our economy.

All foreign direct investment will be given the necessary courtesies and treated with professionalism at all times but based on the rules and regulations governing such investment. New partners will be sought and old partnerships intensified. In this, we have already started to build collaborative arrangements with private investors, international co-operating partners and financial institutions.

Coupled with this is our absolute need to commit ourselves to sound management of the national economy.  It is imperative that all partners and stakeholders in the national economy act with a single resolution and communicate their single determination to grow Zimbabwe’s economy and wealth. Rather than aspiring merely to be wealthy individuals, we should aspire to be citizens of a wealthy country.

In March, we launched the Short Term Economic Recovery Plan (STERP) which, coupled with the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), will provide the framework for our economic recovery.

In turn, STERP and the GPA informed the development of the 100 Day Plan which commits every ministry to defined and deliverable targets. This 100 Day Plan has been adopted by Cabinet and will be launched officially next week.

I believe that the Ministerial targets outlined in the 100 Day plan will also offer insights into opportunities for specific PPP projects and I encourage you to review the Plan in the context of the conclusions reached at this seminar.

However, any real, long lasting rebound of a successful economy has to be accompanied by an equal if not more powerful value system. This value system can only rest on the pillars of civil liberties, the right of association and the right of civil society to challenge those entrusted with governance.

Zimbabwe is richly endowed with human and natural resources to create sufficient wealth for all its citizens irrespective of race, colour, tribe or creed.

Let us use our combined national intellectual capacity to create policies and practices that lead Zimbabwe to the highest level of growth and development.

Through working together by forming strategic, principled partnerships we can rebuild our nation and see Zimbabwe restored to its rightful place as a beacon of democracy, economic growth and prosperity.

I thank you