Investment Bill generates intense debate in Parly

By Veneranda Langa

THE Joshua Sacco-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Industry on Tuesday recommended that the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (ZIDA) Bill must ensure that the agency is decentralised to provinces and districts, which must be empowered to approve investments of up to US$1 million.

Sacco said this in the National Assembly while presenting the Industry Committee report on the ZIDA Bill, which is currently in the Second Reading Stage of being crafted.

The ZIDA Bill seeks to establish the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency, which will be a one-stop shop for investors.

“During public hearings, the public suggested that ZIDA should be decentralised and devolution be implemented to provincial and district structures,” Sacco said.

“The committee’s recommendations are that the Bill should encompass a clause which provides for maximum value of investment at provincial level and US$1 million is adequate for provincial and district investment.”

He said in order to promote the ease of doing business, investment licences should be out in five days and that officers manning desks at ZIDA provincial and district offices must be senior decision-makers to avoid bureaucracy.

Sacco said the Bill must follow the Rwandan model, adding that board members for ZIDA must only hold a maximum of two terms, which is eight years, with board members chosen on a performance-based format and the eight board members should also reflect gender and geographical representation.

Dzivarasekwa MP Edwin Mushoriwa (MDC Alliance) said he was shocked to see adverts for posts to be filled in at ZIDA before the agency was even formed, which smelt of corruption.

“Government was even paying for offices before the ZIDA Bill is crafted. Following the Rwandan model will be difficult because in Rwanda, their investment agency chief executive officer sits in Cabinet, yet in Zimbabwe it’s not the case,” Mushoriwa said.

Mutasa South MP Regai Tsunga (MDC Alliance) added: “It is an anomaly for ZIDA positions to be advertised when there is no structure or board. As Parliament, we take exception to that.”

Makonde MP Kindness Paradza (Zanu PF) stressed the need for the ZIDA Bill to include people with relevant skills in the Bill.

Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese (MDC Alliance) blasted Industry minister Mangaliso Ndlovu, his deputy Rajeshkumar Modi and Industry ministry officials for being absent during debate of the ZIDA Bill.

Modi later turned up in the House to listen to MPs’ contributions.

Proportional Representation MP Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga (MDC-T) said as ZIDA was being implemented, the Industry ministry must be wary of corrupt tendencies, where government officials demand bribes from investors.

Chegutu West MP Dextor Nduna (Zanu PF) said government should be wary that investors do not export unbeneficiated products.

On gender issues, Mount Pleasant legislator Samuel Banda (MDC Alliance) suggested that if the CEO of ZIDA was a male, then the deputy should be a woman or vice-versa.

Mutasa North MP Chido Madiwa (Zanu PF) threatened that if the ZIDA board had no equal number of males to females, then the Bill should not be passed.
Other suggestions by MPs were that the Bill must ensure that all local and international investors must ensure public health standards are observed.