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Red flags over ED deals

THE Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (Seatini) has raised a red flag over deals the government signed in the past four months, saying they were characterised by opaqueness and lack of public scrutiny.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

In its concept paper for the forthcoming provincial wide consultations on foreign direct investment (FDI) and the reform processes in Zimbabwe, Seatini said President Emmerson Mnangagwa had revealed that the country had attracted investment commitments amounting to $11 billion in the past four months, but the deals were not clear.

Some of the major deals that have been reported include the $1,2 billion Tourism and Hospitality Industry one, lithium ($1,4 billion), Agricultural Finance and Commodities Ecosystem ($1,5 billion), National Railways of Zimbabwe ($1,7 billion) and platinum ($4,2 billion), the body said.

“There are, however, discomforts emanating from the opaqueness of the processes leading to these major investment deals, as they are signed in boardrooms, with the public lacking key details to such deals,” Seatini said in a concept note.

“There is no full disclosure of details and information on these deals, including full disclosure of the investors. Currently, there are limited forums for collective interrogation of these investment deals that are inclusive of communities and the civil society.”

It said the current investment drive and reform processes have raised a lot of questions, as they exclude “important stakeholders”.

“Furthermore, there are general concerns that the considerable pressure by the new government to attract investment is an opportunity that can be exploited given the appetite of global capital,” Seatini said, warning that “investments characterised by opaqueness and lack of public scrutiny may fail the desires of most Zimbabweans.”

Seatini said such investments may fail to create decent jobs, empower women and youth, promote economic independence through enhancing domestic fiscal resources, reduce poverty and socio-economic inequalities, promote social well-being, promote social cohesion and contribute to rural economic transformation.

“Such investments are disastrous to the citizens of Zimbabwe, especially given the experiences at Chiadzwa diamond mining fields,” it said.

To discuss these issues, among others, Seatini, in conjunction with other civic society organisations, will hold provincial consultations on FDI and the reform processes in Zimbabwe, starting with Bulawayo on Friday.

The objective of the consultations, according to Seatini concept paper, is to promote citizen participation in the reform processes in Zimbabwe and promote the attraction of FDI that will enhance the agenda for transformative industrialisation in Zimbabwe.

Since coming to power in November through a military-backed transition, Mnangagwa has been preaching the “Zimbabwe is open for business mantra”, promising to create an investor-friendly environment.

SOURCE: NEWSDAY

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