New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: Swiss Business Fear Ambush Policies - Envoy

THE Zimbabwean government still cannot be trusted it shall not lay ambush to current and prospective foreign investment under its empowerment drive, Switzerland ambassador to Zimbabwe Luciano Lavizzari has said.

In an exclusive interview with Newzimbabwe.com Thursday, Lavizzari said Zimbabwe's tough empowerment policies which prescribe a compulsory 51:49 local-foreign ownership ratio continued to scare away investors from his country who prefer to have nothing to do with Zimbabwe during the current unpredictable wealth redistribution regime.

Ambassador Lavizzari was part of a group of international ambassadors who attended indigenisation minister Francis Nhema's address at SAPES Trust Thursday.

Even after Nhema had committed an hour and a half while trying to convince everyone the Zanu PF crafted law was harmless, Lavizzari is among diplomats who was still not convinced the Zimbabwean government was sincere in its attempts to tame the disastrous law.

Switzerland has few companies operating in Zimbabwe, the most prominant being giant food processor Nestle Zimbabwe which President Mugabe once threatened with seizure if it went ahead boycotting "blood

milk" supplies from his dairies.

"Many more would like to come but they are scared away by this very approach," said Lavizzari, referring to business people from Switzerland.

"Also because it is not consistent and because it is not being communicated properly."

Nhema on Thursday struggled to convince guests Zimbabwe's controversial empowerment

law was sincere, preferring to spend the night imploring the guests to "understand" the indigenisation drive.

Said Ambassador Lavizzari: "They (business people) are asking the question all the time, 'is it possible to have a policy which is consistently applied', and l don't know if this policy is consistently applied.

"I am trying to tell them to come and understand the situation in Zimbabwe but they are still mistrusting.

"They (investors) are also afraid that the situation might change over the years because there is no guarantee that whatever is established would also be applied; look at BIPPA. It does not instil confidence," Ambassador Lavizzari said.

Zimbabwe has often been accused of failing to protect foreign businesses under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA).

Ambassador Lavizzari continued, "I am sticking out my neck explaining to them that Zimbabwe is a country which is changing ,that we have to stop this thing of saying Zimbabwe is an unsecure country.

Zimbabwe is very secure but there is still this handicap and these people are investing their own money and they are asking me the question 'would you invest your own money in Zimbabwe'."

"I would say No," he said.

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