South Korean investors defies Robert Mugabe

HARARE– In a move likely to annoy Robert Mugabe, a strong South Korean representatives from Global industrial giants Samsung, Daewoo and Hyundai arrived in Zimbabwe to explore investment opportunities, and met Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai a statement issued in Harare on Tuesday said.\r\n

Tsvangirai said in a statement that the representatives of the South Korean companies met the Zimbabwean Premier on Monday "to express their interest in investing in Zimbabwe".

Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF is an ally of the poor Communist-run North Korea which has no economic advantage compared to its neighbour. 

"We have been discussing potential areas of interest in business. Some of the key Korean companies such as Hyundai, Samsung, Daewoo are part of this delegation. We had very productive exchanges," he said. .

Premier Tsvangirai told the investors that Zimbabwe was ripe for investment and that the southern African country was in the process of establishing a one-stop-shop investment centre for ease.

The business delegation said the purpose of their visit was to get information on Zimbabwe’s investment climate and other relevant material for them to make informed decisions.

The South Koreans expressed interest in the mining, construction and technological fields.

Tsvangirai said some of the businesspersons would sign Memoranda of Understanding with Zimbabwean companies before they leave for South Korea.

The visit by the South Koreans follows Tsvangirai’s investment hunting trip to that Asian country in May this year where he signed a Bilateral Protection and Promotion Agreement.

Pressured by his North Korean counterparts President Robert Mugabe reversed a bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPPA) signed by his former rival.

Mr Tsvangirai who joined President Mugabe in a unity government ending a long and bitter political struggle signed the BIPPA during a visit to Seoul in May this year and he was also given an honorary degree by a Korean university, much to the annoyance of Robert Mugabe.

The Koreans had expressed a strong desire to participate in Zimbabwe’s reconstruction and the agreement would have ensured the Asian country’s investments were protected.

George Charamba, the Robert Mugabe’s spokesman revealed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had written to the South Koreans to tell them the agreement was "null and void."Their embassy has been informed of the constitutional position and indications are that they have since communicated to Seoul," the state controlled Herald newspaper quoted a Foreign Affairs official as saying.

"We don’t anticipate any problems with Korea on the matter because we have always had cordial ties. "They were just not aware that the PM did not have authority to do what he did.

"We are good friends with Korea but we simply do not have a BIPPA with them, we do not even have a Joint Commission and that is the starting point."

Mr Charamba said only President Mugabe after consulting cabinet could bind Zimbabwe to another country through a BIPPA. "It is absurd, to say the least. Anyway, as far as I know and I have checked, the President never made any such delegation so in effect no BIPPA was signed in Korea," he told the Herald.

"Maybe it was the mock signing ceremony of a BIPPA that might be signed in the future by those constitutionally delegated to do so."