By Farirai Machivenyika
Government has gazetted the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency Bill (HB 2, 2019) which seeks to establish a one-stop shop for investors. The Bill was published in yesterday’s Government Gazette and is part of Government’s efforts to create an investor-friendly environment. According to the Memorandum, Clause 3 and 4 of the Bill say the role of the agency will be to facilitate entry of investment projects.
“(The Bill seeks to) Establish the Agency, give it a corporate status and sets out the functions and powers of the Agency respectively.
“The primary function of the Agency is to facilitate entry and implementation of investment projects, as well as to coordinate investment programmes and strategies,” read part of the Bill.
The Bill also provides for organisations that would constitute the Agency.
“Clause 5 (a) establishes a one-stop shop investment centre which shall have representatives of entities that play a role in the licensing, establishment and operationalisation of investments.
“These entities are the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, the Environmental Management Agency, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the National Social Security Authority, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, the State Enterprises Restructuring Agency and specialised investment units and other relevant line ministries.
“(b) Provides for the secondment of officials from line ministries and statutory agencies to the authority,” further reads provisions of the Bill.
The Bill also establishes a board that shall control the Agency including and appointment of a chief executive officer and other staff of the Agency.
Under clause 10, the Bill enjoins investors to conform to local legislation.
“Clause 11 specifies that investors are free to invest in any sector save for those that are reserved for locals,” reads the Bill.
Clause 12 and 13 provides that; “(a) foreign investors should be treated the same way as local investors; (b) foreign investors from all countries be treated in the same way.” Clause 14 permits investors to employ key personnel of their choice and that they can be foreigners.
“Clause 16 guarantees that the property of investors would not be expropriated. Where it is expropriated for a public purpose, the expropriation should be done in accordance with the law, in a non-discriminatory manner and a payment of effective compensation in a freely cover-title currency,” reads the Bill.
Clause 18 of the Bill also provides for the free inward and outward transfer of investors’ funds and lays out circumstances under which such transfers may be delayed.
Such circumstances include instances where there is need to protect the creditors of an investor and in order to assist financial regulators or law enforcement.
The Bill also empowers the agency to cancel an investor’s licence if it was obtained fraudulently, transfers the licence without authority or failure to implement approved activity within agreed time frames.
The agency is also empowered, in consultation with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to offer incentives to investors under Clause 29.
Clause 37 also provides for dispute resolution mechanisms whenever they arise.
President Mnangagwa has emphasised Government’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for both investors and the establishment of ZIDA is part of the ongoing reforms.
Government’s move to establish the Agency follows President Mnangagwa’s visit to Rwanda last year where he was impressed by the strides made by the Central African country since the 1994 genocide.
During his visit he met with members of the Rwandan Development Board.
Following the visit Rwandan governance expert and CEO of the Board Ms Clare Akamanzi visited Zimbabwe where she met Cabinet Ministers, Politburo members, senior Government officials and members of the private sector to share her country’s experiences.