Business applauds govt on special economic zones


BUSINESS lobby groups in Bulawayo have welcomed a government initiative to establish special economic zones (SEZ) to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).


The government last Thursday revealed it was intensifying efforts to attract FDI through the establishment of SEZs. It also pledged to amend investment laws to make it easier for foreign investors to register and do business in the country.

The move is being supported by the World Bank which reportedly promised to help attract investment, promote export-oriented growth and generate employment.

In separate interviews with Southern Eye Business on Friday local business groups said the initiative was a right move towards rejuvenating Bulawayo’s collapsed industries.

“The initiative by the government to establish SEZs is welcome, but there is still more to be done. The government should come up with investor-friendly policies because policies which are not investor friendly turn away potential investors. There are certain policies that need to be revised,” Lucky Mlilo, the chief executive officer of Association for Business in Zimbabwe, said.

Mlilo said the government should come up with consistent policies, saying inconsistent policies did not argur well for business. He encouraged the government to emulate other countries who are doing well in business like Zambia.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industry president Charles Msipa said the initiative was welcome, but the government needed to listen to prospective investors to understand what they really needed for them to do business in the country.

“It is important for the country to look at those countries that have been successful in attracting significant investors. We need to learn from them on how they have done it. We need to listen to prospective investors and understand what really matters to them,” Msipa said.

Affirmative Action Group Matabeleland Chapter president Roy Sibanda said the initiative was long overdue.

“It is a very welcome initiative even though it is long overdue. The move will help in the creation of employment in the city,” he said.

Business lobby groups have been pushing the government to declare Bulawayo a special economic zone to attract investment to fund the recovery of industry.

Bulawayo is the most hit by deindustrialisation after recording close to 100 company closures last year.

More companies continue to downsize and some are relocating to other cities, leaving thousands of locals unemployed.

Closure of companies in Bulawayo has largely been attributed to shortage of working capital, erratic power supplies and high operation costs largely because of antiquated machinery and the high cost of labour.

Special economic zones are designated areas that have special economic status, enjoy lower taxes and duty-free importation of raw materials, among other incentives, to create an investor-friendly environment.

Major restrictive laws governing investment in Zimbabwe include the ZIA Act, Zimbabwe Stock Exchange Act, Immigration Act, Labour Act, Zimbabwe Revenue Act, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act and Environmental Management Act.