Zimbabwe needs to ensure the rule of law is upheld if it has to rejoin the Commonwealth as the club of mainly former British colonies revers that, prominent businessman Shingi Munyeza has said.
This will include an election roadmap, aligning laws to the constitution, political will to make changes, as well as establishment of commissions that allow democratic space, since these affect the day-to-day running of business.
Zimbabwe has begun talks with the UK about being re-admitted to the Commonwealth, as the new government attempts to clean its international reputation. The country was suspended in 2002 over political violence against white farmers and opposition parties.
Membership of the Commonwealth brings both economic and political support, as the group's secretariat assists member states with election monitoring, while there are immigration privileges in the United Kingdom.
Zimbabwe is also re-engaging other international communities in a bid to unlock relationships that will see the country re-entering the international commercial arena.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe Business Club breakfast meeting last week, Munyeza said President Emerson Mnangagwa did well in responding to the issues raised, but the most critical matter that remained unaddressed was to do with the rule of law, which he said was an umbrella issue that will help revive the economy.
According to Munyeza, a clear roadmap on elections will assist the business community to know pre, during and after election effects on their operations, adding the business community needed assurance from the President that their business will be safe during that period.
"I think we should rejoin the Commonwealth, but we need to work on these issues first. There should be a political will to deal with issues I have pointed out. We can't afford to separate business from the rule of law, as everything affects the running of the businesses. For example, most of our capital comes from Western countries. Zimbabwe cannot stay out of the Commonwealth forever, as there are a lot of benefits, but if we are to join, we need to demonstrate willingness to clearly stamp out corruption, restructure state-owned enterprises that are not functioning and a clear elections roadmap, among other issues. We need to show the Commonwealth that we are serious and willing to abide by their regulations," he said.
"Whether it works out or not, we need to make sure that an election roadmap is outlined. What we want to hear right now is that the President is giving us an election roadmap. On the issue of the debt overhang, we need an update on what's happening on the Lima Plan or IMF debt overhang, as these issues are the elephant in the room," Munyeza added.
He also emphasised on the need for commissions that allow for democratic space to open up and be re-activated and become functional in rejuvenating business. Munyeza said some businesses, although existing, were not functional, due to resources, thus the need for checks and balances in the economy.
He said government needs to align laws with the constitution to attract the much-needed capital.
Diaspora Investment Community representative Jeff Madzingo implored Mnangagwa to put in place laws that were cognisant of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, particularly on issues of voting, investments and citizenship.
"It's not easy to be in foreign countries. May our President put in place laws that enable us to invest in our home country and get our returns. We also need the right to vote," he said.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Sifelani Jabangwe said there was still a backlog on issues relating to the ease of doing business.
"There is also the issue of currency needed for the smooth sailing of operations. If we attend to those, we will have done 50% of the work, then together we can develop strategies by engaging export joint ventures and so on," he said.
Going forward, Jabangwe said the CZI has always engaged government and is currently participating in rapid results of ease of doing business and programmes under government's economic blueprint, ZimAsset.