Aus takes 'wait and see' stance on Zim

2013-08-29 14:02
Robert Mugabe (AP)

Robert Mugabe (AP)

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Cape Town – The Australian government is in a "wait and see" mode over developments in Zimbabwe following recent elections that saw the declaration of President Robert Mugabe as the winner with 61% against his arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai's 34%.

Business Day reported on Thursday that Australia believed Zimbabwe at this stage was a "very risky place for people to invest".

Addressing the Africa Down Under conference in Perth, Australia’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Matthew Neuhaus maintained that Australia’s view on Zimbabwe for the past two years had always been one of a cautious "wait and see" approach.

Two years ago Neuhaus appeared more optimistic on the country’s prospects when he told delegates at the same conference: "There is a considerable difference of views on the issue of indigenisation and the requirement for 51% indigenous ownership is not a position endorsed by the Zimbabwean cabinet. I believe that by the end of the year there will be greater clarity on indigenisation and in a more positive direction."

Neuhaus said he believed a 51% indigenisation requirement, to be introduced over an extended period, was "doable" but proposals made by Mugabe during the election campaign to go for 100% indigenisation would be "the end".

The Australian envoy’s remarks come at a time when Zimbabwe has been ranked among the 10 least countries in the world that lack investor friendly laws. This is despite a huge endowment in mineral and natural resources.

Quoting Canada based Fraser Institute, a Newsday report said Zimbabwe was in the same league with Greece, Indonesia, Vietnama, Venezuela, DRC Congo, Kyrgystan, Bolivia, Guatemala and Phillipines.

Zimbabwe’s indigenisation and empowerment laws compelling foreign-owned companies to sell controlling stakes to locals as well as political uncertainty made the country unattractive to foreign investors, the report said. 

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