Khama urges corruption fight to gain investor confidence
By Oliver Kazunga
Zimbabwe should forge ahead with its anti-corruption fight to restore investor confidence and foster smooth economic transformation to anchor national development, former Botswana President Ian Khama, said yesterday.
The candid former President, who learnt at Whitestone, a top private school in Bulawayo, said the country has great potential but needs to take bold measures to weed out graft and create an enabling business environment.
“When people know that you are not immune; no-one is above the law, it sends a message. Zimbabwe has potential to achieve massive economic transformation if it adopts and implements robust anti-corruption initiatives,” said Mr Khama, who was one of the top speakers at the ongoing Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) congress and international investment indaba in the city.
“In Botswana, we created a directorate which is independent and able to investigate anybody, so no-one is protected whatever level you are . . . and if they investigate and discover that someone has been engaged in conflict of interest or in fact, corruption they will be referred to the director of public prosecution and brought to court.”
His sentiments come as President Mnangagwa’s Government has declared zero-tolerance on corruption with a number of high profile cases some involving former Cabinet Ministers being handled by the courts while others are being investigated by relevant arms of Government.
Earlier in his address he showered praises on Zimbabwe as a great country with potential to be a force to reckon with in the world.
“I believe very strongly that this country, Zimbabwe, which is a truly great country, is rich and can give its people great prosperity and transform its economy. I am very confident as I’m optimistic that going forward, you will realise your full potential,” he said.
The former Botswana President said Zimbabwe has what it takes to transform its economy into prosperity given the vast opportunities premised on skilled and innovative human resource base as well as natural resources.
“And indeed, Zimbabweans have contributed to the development or success of Botswana. You have natural resources as well in the mines; all that is needed are policies to be put in place.
Policies and programmes that bring about a culture of good governance in order for you to succeed and indeed we believe very strongly as Botswana the economic growth should be driven by the private sector with the Government acting truly as a facilitator.”
After years of isolation from the international community, the Government has embarked on a programme to re-engage the global village to attract the much-needed foreign direct investment.
The new political administration under President Mnangagwa has also adopted the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra with a view to attract investment from across the globe.
Mr Khama said as the country woos foreign investors, it was imperative that Zimbabwe gives preference to investors that add value to the economy in order to turnaround the economic fortunes.
On exports, he said:
“Do not just depend on one market for your exports because if that market collapses, it’s also your downfall hence you must attempt to diversify the markets as much as possible.”
Mr Khama said when Botswana attained independence from Britain in 1966 it was ranked as one of the world’s poorest countries, then heavily relying on foreign aid.
Botswana, he said, since 1989 has been classified as a middle income economy with the discovery of diamonds and mining production that followed created an opportunity for his country to embark on robust economic progress.
“Diamond mining now contributes around 38 percent to the national Gross Domestic Product, generally 80 percent of national export income and 35 percent of Government revenue. So how did we leverage the mineral wealth for economic reasons?
“We achieved that focusing on the following areas: it included macro-economic policies and good governance; strong checks and balances notably for ensuring public accountability and rules for public spending and general economic management.”
Mr Khama said Botswana sometimes has been accused of being over-regulated and too much bureaucracy on checks and balances.
“But you have to find a compromise between ensuring you have checks and balances as they don’t allow bad habits and corruption to develop.
“We also ensured that we established healthy foreign exchange reserves which we still have today; most ensuring that we have a strong and stable currency and we also have an independent and vibrant Reserve Bank,” he said. The Chronicle.