Switzerland charmed by new dispensation

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President Mnangagwa

HARARE – Switzerland is impressed by  steps that Zimbabwe has taken so far to re-engage the global community  and promises it has made to undertake economic reforms, but should  follow through on promises to attract investors, an envoy said on  Thursday.

Since the advent of the new administration in Zimbabwe, led by  President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Harare has begun taking steps to  re-integrate with the global community, following years of isolation.

President Mnangagwa has also been preaching the message that Zimbabwe  was open for business while promising swift reforms to improve the  investment climate.

The biggest change that the new government has made so far was scraping  the indigenisation law, making it only applicable to platinum and  diamond mining.

President Mnangagwa has also promised to organise a free, fair and  credible election and to invite observers from the United Nations and  European Union who previously were not allowed to observe past  elections.

Outgoing Swiss ambassador to Zimbabwe Ruth Huber said Swiss President  Alain Berset had also encouraged President Mnangagwa to implement the  envisaged reforms when the two met on the sidelines of the World  Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last month.

“The economic development of Zimbabwe goes hand in hand with democratic  development, with good governance, so all these areas are important,” she said after bidding farewell to President Mnangagwa at his  Munhumutapa offices.

“I have to say the messages we are receiving from His Excellency  President Mnangagwa in all these areas, putting focus on economic  development but also in governance areas, granting free, fair, credible  and transparent elections are very positive and very welcome messages.”

Huber said Zimbabwe had massive potential to develop, mainly due to its  highly skilled human resource base.

“I will also promote Zimbabwe as a country with potential due to the  good skill level of people and I think also the willingness of the  people to improve, to develop, that is a very good basis for investors  to come,” she said.

She said there was need to resolve outstanding issues regarding Swiss  nationals whose farms were compulsorily acquired during the land reform  program.

The farms were acquired for re-distribution despite being protected  under a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA)  between Zimbabwe and Switzerland.

Agreements under BIPPA require that the government pay fair  compensation in currency of the former owner’s choice for both land and  improvements.

“It is also important to resolve issues of the past and to really show  that rule of law is guranted. Switzerland and Zimbabwe do have a valid  BIPPA and there are still some issues with farmers who lost their land  and assets and the compensation on this valid BIPPA is still an open  issue, but we are having very good conversations with government about  this and resolution of this will be a very important signal to future  investors.”

Huber said she would also promote Zimbabwe as a favourable tourist  destination. – New Ziana

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