EDITORIAL COMMENT: Time international community lifted sanctions against Zimbabwe

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

YESTERDAY, we published an article written by President Emmerson Mnangagwa for The New York Times in which he made a clarion call for the international community to partner Zimbabwe as it tries to find its place in the community of nations. The President pointed out that Zimbabwe was making great strides in extricating itself from its tainted past and was on course to achieving its goals of growing the economy and improving the lot of its people.

In the past three months since the new dispensation took over, a solid foundation has been laid for the country’s economy to take off and we ask the world to support the country as it navigates its way back to normalcy and economic prosperity. Granted it will not be easy to undo the damage wrought on the Zimbabwean economy for the past 37 years and people should therefore not expect miracles within a short period of time.

What is critical is that the Government is doing and saying the right things, signals which the rest of the world is receiving positively. This is important for investor confidence. Already, the economic reforms the Government is implementing have started bearing fruit, with the country receiving positive credit ratings for the first time in 20 years.

Last week, globally recognised South African credit ranking institution, NKC African Economics, positively rated the country from negative to stable. In its report, NKC African Economics said the end of ex-President Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule presents opportunities for investors to take advantage of.

NKC African Economics said based on the country’s new political and economic environment, it was shifting the country’s credit ratings from negative to stable. “Although Zimbabwe’s economic prospects are filled with a sense of interest, confidence has not yet fully returned. There is likely to currently be a greater appetite for Zimbabwean investments from those with a higher appetite for risk, and we expect foreign investor interest to pick up even before the elections,” reads the report. “As a result of our economic analysis, as well as incorporating our political assessment, we have decided to change the outlook on Zimbabwe’s sovereign risk rating to stable, from negative previously.”

The Government has already created the necessary conditions for an investment-led economic recovery that puts a premium on job creation. Since November, the country has secured $3.1 billion worth of commitments from across the world with investors impressed by the bold steps taken by President Mnangagwa to liberalise and introduce greater market forces while building an economy in which enterprise is allowed, encouraged and protected.

In its budget presented towards the end of last year, measures were introduced to reduce the deficit while commitments were made towards repaying the country’s debts to various multilateral institutions. The Government has also amended the Indigenisation & Economic Empowerment Act, which had constrained foreign ownership of local businesses and discouraged much needed investment. By removing constraints to doing business in almost all sectors, Zimbabwe is sending a clear message to the world that it is open for business.

President Mnangagwa has also reiterated that all foreign investments will be safe and secure in the new Zimbabwe with transparency and the rule of law being key. A crusade against corruption has been launched with Cabinet Ministers now required to declare their assets while special anti-corruption courts have been established.

Government has also received a positive response to a three-month amnesty offered to those who moved their money out of the country with hundreds of millions of dollars having already been brought back to Zimbabwe.

The Government has also created a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission which has hit the ground running and is gathering views of Zimbabweans on the emotive issue of past political disturbances which will ultimately enable the country to move forward now as one united nation. In his article for The New York Times, President Mnangagwa asked the West to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe.

“Zimbabwe is a land of potential, but it will be difficult to realise it with the weight of sanctions hanging from our necks,” he said.

“So in this light I urge the international community to heed the saying, ‘when the facts change’, change your minds.

“We cannot remain hostage to our past but instead must look to the future hand in hand with our international partners. The new Zimbabwe fully affirms its place in the family of nations, with all the responsibilities this entails.

“Those who cling to the sanctions are stuck in the old Zimbabwe — the Zimbabwe of poverty and international isolationism. We are bringing about the new Zimbabwe — a country of hope and opportunity, a country that engages with the world and strives toward prosperity. We invite the international community to partner with us and help us turn our country around. Together we will unlock Zimbabwe’s vast potential and build a new, prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe for all”.