HARARE, July 3 – Zimbabwe can easily quadruple investment levels to 2.0 billion US dollars annually if it addresses investor concerns on policy, infrastructure and business environment, says Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) chief executive Richard Mbaiwa.

An absence of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the economy is among major factors fuelling the current liquidity challenges.

Mbaiwa told the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs here Wednesday that investment levels for 2012 and 2013 had remained stuck at around 400 million USD. Policy inconsistence, lack of clarity and absence of key infrastructure remained investors’ biggest worries, he said.

“We think there is more interest being shown (to invest in the country) and Zimbabwe can easily do 1.0 billion to 2.0 billion USD in a year if the issues are addressed,” Mbaiwa told the committee.

Zimbabwe’s neighbours, including Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia last year attracted investments of between 1.8 billion and 8.0 billion USD.

“As a country we are operating below our capacity. We have ability to improve our performance once we deal with issues to do with policy and doing business,” Mbaiwa said, adding that current confusion and conflicting statement by government officials on the indigenisation and empowerment laws were fuelling the situation.

Zimbabwe’s indigenisation laws demand that locals be majority owners of a minimum of 51 per cent shareholding in major companies operating in the economy. Some Cabinet ministers have been cited pointing to possible amendments to the empowerment laws while others have maintained the statutes will
not be changed.

Mbaiwa said the government had failed to establish an effective “one-stop shop” for investors due to failure to synchronise the various investment laws. The one-stop shop concept sought to reduce the number of days in which investors process their licences to less than five days down from 90 days but Mbaiwa said this was currently not the case.

“The process has not been happening as it was initially envisaged because of unco-ordinated statutes,” he said, while urging the committee to push for harmonisation of the country’s investment laws.

He encouraged the committee to push for legislation making it mandatory for every foreign investor to pass through the institution. “Currently there is no legal requirement for investors to come to ZIA, if they want, they can invest without coming through ZIA,” he said, adding that this made it difficult to track investment levels.

Mbaiwa said the ZIA had approved 70 investment projects worth 440 million USD in the first five months of the year, up from 280 million USD during the same period last year.