Government is mulling amendments to the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Act to give legal effect to the institution as the “first and primary” port of call for all investments into the country.Amendments are also being considered to the Companies Act to align the law to the new Constitution and to make it user friendly in terms of regulations that promote new investments.
ZIA chief executive Mr Richard Mbaiwa revealed plans to amend the laws in Harare yesterday at a workshop to map modalities on how to establish special economic zones in Zimbabwe.
Delegates from public and the private sectors attending the two day workshop ending today were lectured on SEZ experiences of Mauritius, DRC, Malaysia, Jordan, Nigeria and China.
Mr Mubaiwa said amendments to the ZIA Act would also introduce provisions that give legal effect to the new structure of the authority as a one-stop-shop investment centre.
“We are looking at the possibility of amending the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Act to provide legal effect to the one-stop- shop launched a couple of years ago.
“There is need for a legal framework to make ZIA the first and primary port of call for all investments, especially foreign investment coming into Zimbabwe,” Mr Mbaiwa said.
Further, the ZIA CEO the provisions would also compel all investors into Zimbabwe to register their operations as current laws allow investors to set up shop without coming to ZIA.
“Investors can actually come and establish a business without coming to ZIA. It will also be important for this workshop to discuss whether legal provisions for the establishment of SEZ should be included under the Act,” he said.
Mr Mbaiwa said it was critical to have a comprehensive data base of investments in the country in one place for effective monitoring, evaluation and assistance where this is needed.
The process includes conception of the principles of one stop shop centre provisions, drafting of the principles, Cabinet discussions and approval, debate in parliament and then drafting and gazetting of the proposed amendments.
Mr Mbaiwa could however, not say on how this process will take, but indicated that they currently were at the drafting stage.
Plans to give ZIA legal clout as the primary port of call comes amid concerns that the country’s investments laws do not speak to each other, hence difficulties in fast-tracking investment approval.
Apart from the legal discord, there also are concerns on the lengthy and arduous investment approval process for which Zimbabwe is poorly rated by global investment bodies.
The poor ratings on the doing business and global competitiveness indices are cited some of the major reasons the country is not been able to attract significant foreign investment and Government has taken steps to address this.
Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabhiza told the workshop on SEZs in Zimbabwe that the Companies Act would be aligned to the country’s new Supreme Law, which came into force in March last year.
“We are looking at the possibility of amendments to the Companies Act to make it user friendly in terms of provisions that accommodate viable business activities,” she said.
Mrs Mabhiza said there were certain provisions within the Companies Act which Government feels are restrictive to business. The Companies Act falls directly under the ambit of the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
She pointed out that her ministry was obligated under Government’s new medium term economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-economic Transformation 2014/18, to contribute toward economic growth.
Major laws governing investment in Zimbabwe include the ZIA Act, Zimbabwe Stock Exchange Act, Immigration Act, Labour Act, Zimbabwe Revenue Act, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act and Environmental Management Act.
Investors are also compelled to comply with other sector specific laws (e.g mining, energy), local authority by laws and statutory obligations of the National Social Security Authority.