AFTER holding Bi National Commission talks in October, this year in Harare, SA and Zimbabwean businesses again met in Johannesburg today to further cement business ties, when the Zim-SA Forum signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Black Business Council, which will among things promote investment by BBC members in Zimbabwe.
The signing ceremony, which was held today (Thursday) in Joburg’s upmarket suburb of Illovo was attended by SA and Zimbabwean business people, largely from Zim –SA Forum, and the BBC , whose guest of honour was Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to SA, Isaac Moyo.
Both BBC president Dr Danisa Baloyi and Ambassador Moyo, emphasized on the urgent need for business co-operation between businesses from the two countries, because of proximity and a common history.
“Its imperative we strengthen relations and we are natural business partner because we are neighbours but we have never really taken advantage of the,” says Baloyi, adding that the two countries have signed numerous trade agreements.
“But they end up gathering dust but we hope we can now begin to actualize those agreements,”she says.
SA is Zimbabwe’s largest trading partne and about 35 signed MOU’s.
Moyo, gave the audience a detailed and well received speech on why SA businesses should invest in Zimbabwe.
“While we do not discriminate, Zimbabwe clearly wants to do business with SA especially black South Africans,” Moyo told the high powered gathering .
Moyo however admitted that Zimbabwe has been going through some challenges but that the worst is over, given that his government had successfully implemented the land reform programme.
“The worst is over, we took our land back the land and we are proud of it. It was at a heavy cost for trying to be OURSELVES but it is a cost we are prepared to pay for, we make no apology about it to anybody, ” says a defiant Moyo.
Moyo also assured that his office is open in helping investors, outlining some of the areas which investors both large and small could pursue.
“The Zimbabwean government has been doing a lot to change laws that inhibit business, and we have created the right political environment for even SME’s or big businesses to invest, all we need are the rains as Zimbabwe like the rest of the region has been affected by the drought,” he adds.
“The Zimbabwean industry is crying for recapitalization, to revamp old machinery, and in the next few years we expect a lot of good things. Ignore the small risks of today and make that important start, we are already being visited by people from Germany, England, why would they be interested today if the situation was as bad as they claim through their media,” he adds.
Moyo also says the Zimbabwean government as part of its rebuilding process is concentrating on infrastructural development and is rebuilding the Harare -Chirundu road, the Harare – Beitbridge highway among other projects.
“We of course have tourism opportunities like the Victoria Falls, the government has master plan for its excellence, its airport has been redone, to accommodate big airlines, for the wide bodied planes. We have already been approached by airlines who want to fly there, and I am not talking about the African airliness, I am talking about the others ones, you know who I am talking about, (the same people who seek to discredit us in public).”
He also urged investors to take advantage of the country’s human resources and the general peace prevailing in the country, blaming the media, particularly the western media for unnecessarily demonizing the country.
SA based Zimbabwean businessman Anele Ndlovu who is also the president of the Zim SA Forum also gave a powerful but brief speech, echoeing Moyo’s sentiments on the country’s potential adding that the MOU was to actually get things done.
Says Ndlovu: “We will fight battles that economy goes back on its feet, as the media has done a lot of disservice to our country, we donot want to have too many meetings but fight the economic battles together.” – Patience Rusere