Re-Branding Zimbabwe for Global Competitiveness

Published on 10th March 2008

Globalisation has opened up the world and re-written the rules of the interactive game between nation-states. It is now certain that Nation-states are assuming a mini-state status and submitting to regional pacts aimed at stimulating economic growth and power. Sovereignty and patriotism are no longer fixed to a specific location and people.

The need for Africa to re-define its agenda for development in the face of mounting competition raises a crucial and compelling case for re-branding African so that the continent can position itself to tap from globalisation. 

Although there is now more competition for investment and trade with the surfacing of emerging markets, Africa has lost significant investment opportunities because of negative perceptions. Plagued by self induced wars and violence, leadership problems, corruption, bad publicity, diseases, poverty and economic disarray, the African brand is perceived as high risk. The increasing decline in official development aid and loss of  confidence in the Washington consensus as a remedy to problems of third world nations has stirred an urgent need to revisit exports and foreign direct investments (FDI).

The Anholt National Brand Index Special Report-Q (2007) defines a national brand as “how others see the country.” It goes in-depth to suggest that globalisation means competition and thus a strong brand provides a competing edge for positioning the country to get a fair share of the world’s cake. The report further posits that the level of exports, people, governance, tourism, culture and heritage, immigration and investments measures the brand.

In the case of Zimbabwe, governance is more defining for brand Zimbabwe than any other indicator. This urgently compels that Zimbabwe re-position itself through embracing proper governance in order to build an attraction in the international marketplace. This will allow other brand measures to achieve a positive status.

It is critical that we build a competitive economy that espouses the values of a mixed economy philosophy if we are to secure a resilient and value delivering economy. In Zimbabwe, the economy remains over-regulated. It does not value the rule of law and natural justice. This damages the national brand. The seizure and threat on private peoples assets, the denial of people’s cash by banks and the price slash operation carried out last year crippled many businesses.Private investment is the engine for economic growth. The lack of fair and collaborative market polices discourages investors, leads to the dearth of foreign investment and raises critical issues on policy bankruptcy and inconsistency.

The threat of seizure of mining assets is still pending especially if the results of the forthcoming general election sway in favour of the ruling party. Well placed government sources reveal that the bill authorising the expropriation and the forceful take over of equities in mining firms will be resuscitated by the next government after its lapse. The rational of the bill raises other important parallels connected to the seizure of white owned farms and the expropriation of other black owned individual’s balance sheets.

It authorises indigenous born individuals and government to take over mining assets worth over US $ 20 billion, which for a rapidly shrinking economy such as Zimbabwe seems impossible to accomplish because we are incapable of paying the market value for the equity.  Approximately US $ 11 billion will be required to pay off the market equivalent of the mining assets by government and indigenous born entrepreneurs. This points to the fact that proponents of the mining legislation are informed by the same philosophy which inspired the farm seizures and expropriation of other black peoples' assets.

How then can we front Zimbabwe as an attraction for safe and secure investments when we are busy scheming to undermine property rights? Can we continue to entrust our destiny to a leadership that manipulates the rule of law to favour  interests remotely connected to national interests?

Zimbabwe ought to implement more sustainable business friendly and nationally inclusive policies in order to position itself in the face of stiff global competition. Nations are possible suitors in social life. No one wants to engage a suitor who cannot be his/her romantic and emotional curator but instead threatens him/her with decimations.All responsible citizens should vote for aspirants whose vision embrace the rule of law and uphold the constitution.

Zimbabwe should re-position itself as a hospitable rainbow nation that values investors of all origins. Our exports will sell on the global market provided our producers are given a conducive atmosphere for production. Building a competitive business environment should remain a priority if we are to achieve prosperity and excellent quality of life for our people.

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