Aussie envoy bemoans inconsistent govt policies, says country remains keen on Zim engagement

Aussie envoy bemoans inconsistent govt policies, says country remains keen on Zim engagement

By Onai Paswani-Abote, HARARE, July 1 (The Source) – Lack of clarity on key government policies is deterring Australian investors from doing business with Zimbabwe, the country’s ambassador to Zimbabwe has said, calling for a transparent business and investment environment.

Suzanne McCourt told The Source that Zimbabwe needs clear and consistent policies that promote trade and growth but said Australia was keen to remain engaged with the country.

”Australian businesses operating in Zimbabwe face a number of challenges, largely arising from a  lack of certainty around key Zimbabwean government policies.  Yet Australia has a long history of economic engagement in Zimbabwe, with Australian skills, investment and technology all relevant to helping Zimbabwe reach its great potential,” McCourt said in a written response to questions from The Source.

The Indigenization Act — enacted in 2008 — requires foreign owned companies valued at over $500,000 to cede 51 percent to black locals is largely blamed for the Southern African country’s failure to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) with its economy struggling to recover from a decade-long contraction.

McCourt also said that Australia has 220 companies with mining interests in Africa, a number of them currently operating in Zimbabwe. Others are involved across a number of Zimbabwe’s economic sectors, primarily education services, tourism and agriculture.

The recent visit by Australia’s Senior Trade Commissioner for Africa, John Madew, and Trade Commissioner for Southern Africa, Patrick Hanlon were efforts by her government  ”to explore opportunities for strengthening business engagement between Australia and Zimbabwe,” she added.

Before the turn of the millennium, Zimbabwe’s biggest export to Australia was unprocessed tobacco, which tapered off as the country’s agriculture sector and the bedrock of its economy collapsed after President Robert Mugabe’s government embarked on oft-violent land seizures to redistribute land from white farmers to blacks in 2000.