WHY DAVOS 2018 WAS IMPORTANT FOR ZIMBABWE[1]

The Davos 2018 theme was “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”, something that Zimbabweans are familiar with given all the setbacks the country experiences over the last three decades in a world not supportive of the tools the political leadership deployed to resolve outstanding issues from the decolonisation era.  Davos 2018 gave Zimbabwe a chance to Reposition, Rebrand, Reconfirm, and Re-invent its place in the world.

In its theme of “Zimbabwe is open for business” articulated at the launch of Investment guidelines and Opportunities in Zimbabwe (January 2018) on the eve of Davos 2018, the new leadership sought to present Zimbabwe as a country working towards a Second Republic that improves the lives of all its people and makes the country a regional and global leader in the building of an African Developmental Democratic State.

Main messages to the Zimbabwe Delegation to Davos were that:-

1.     The President would be the most important face of “Brand Zimbabwe” at Davos.

2.     Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) will follow if Zimbabweans at home and in the diaspora are investing in their own country.

3.     The Zimbabwe delegation will have succeeded if it leaves those it will have met in Davos with the feeling that:-

(i) “The President is someone they can do business with” and by extension “Zimbabwe is a country to do business with”; and

(ii) “ We as foreign investors are also reassured by what we hear from Zimbabwe businesspeople, and not just what the political leadership says”.

4.     The Lima process is foundation for international financial re-engagement and Government remains committed to pursue it in line with its national development goals.

5.     Observance of SADC, AU, and Commonwealth governance benchmarks is respected and considered a key framework for informing future relations with the world.

6.     Zimbabwe is committed to lowering the country risk through policy consistency.

In elaborating on these main points, it was underlined that:-

1.     The Zimbabwe Business Club seeks to support Government engage with private sector investors in Zimbabwe, the Diaspora, and Foreigners within a thriving market system – one that needs the following key conditions:-

-       Has an educated population,

-       Has good public health,

-       Has an effective legal system,

-       Has a free and objective press, and

-       Has an effective and accountable government.

2.     The Meikles briefing meeting was to give the President and his delegation a chance to hear from a select group of Zimbabweans on some of the issues uppermost in the minds of those who run businesses in Zimbabwe while confirming their commitment to play their part in Zimbabwe’s future economic recovery.

3.     Davos 2018 offered Zimbabwe a chance to re-launch its international image with a single voice to benefit of both domestic and international investors: were Zimbabwe a corporation, the President would be its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and its Chief Public Relations (PR) Officer.

4.     Respect for property rights should be extended to all Zimbabweans and their foreign players in the economy so that they can build a more inclusive economy with a framework for a sustainable use of natural resources, modern industries, and expanded services. In all this, it was worth remembering David Hume’s three rights:-

-       Right to buy property,

-       Right to transfer property by consent, and

-       Right to enforce contracts.

5.     Future investments will need a stable domestic financial sector: without a currency crisis, with manageable debt levels, and with viable sources of new investment capital in order to expand the kind of infrastructure that will make inclusive economic growth possible.

6.     Although businesses are not democracies, it is democracy that fosters good business practices and explains why investors are interested in the integrity of election processes; and explains the relationship between a minimum level of a democratic culture and economic development.

 

[1] Based on a Zimbabwe Business Club (ZIMBC) presentation to brief the Zimbabwe Team to Davos led by H.E. President E.D. Mnangagwa; held at Meikles Hotel, Harare on 18 January 2018.