HARARE – A stable business environment in Zimbabwe could see a rise in Australian investments in the southern African nation, according to Canberra’s envoy here, following an exodus of investors in recent years.
This comes as Zimbabwe’s empowerment policy that aims to redress colonial-era imbalances by forcing foreign companies to sell majority domestic stakes to local black investors, has spooked foreign investors.
“Australian investors, and local businesses, seek a stable and transparent business environment, underpinned by clear and consistent policies, in order to invest in Zimbabwe,” Australian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Suzanne McCourt said.
“Certainty for business and building business confidence are critical to unlocking Zimbabwe’s great potential and spurring continued economic growth.”
McCourt was speaking on the sidelines of a two-day visit to Harare by Australia’s Trade Commissioner for Southern Africa, Patrick Hanlon.
“He will meet a range of private sector contacts, government representatives, Australian businesses, education agents, the Zimbabwe Australia Business Council, and the Zimbabwe Australia Alumni Association.
Hanlon said the visit is an opportunity to strengthen links between Australia and Zimbabwe, as well as share lessons from across the region.
Australia in 2002 banned direct ministerial contact with government ministers in Zimbabwe, and in 2004 imposed travel and financial-transaction bans on members of President Robert Mugabe’s regime and senior supporters over rights violations and electoral fraud.
Australia also tightened scrutiny of student visas for the children of senior Zimbabwean government officials.
Mugabe, 92, who has ruled Zimbabwe since winning power in 1980, after decades of British colonial rule, denies allegations of widespread human rights abuses and ballot fraud and accuses Western powers of working with the opposition MDC to oust him.
Hanlon said: “Australia has a long history of economic engagement in Zimbabwe, and growing trade and investment links across the region.
“In particular, Zimbabwe and Australia share similarities in the mining and agriculture sectors, and there is potential for Australia to share its expertise and technology.
“Our educational services are another growing area of economic engagement with Zimbabwe, and have the added benefit of strengthening the people-to-people links between our countries.”