According to an editorial published today in the South African newspaper BusinessDay, the Patriotic Front government led by President Michael Sata must work harder to articulate their intentions and policies before Zambia loses the trust of the international community.
“Prospective investors studying Zambia would be forgiven if they felt they did not have a clear idea about the Southern African country’s economic policies,” the authors write. “Under the government of President Michael Sata and his Patriotic Front, investors have received a mixed bag of practices (and policy). The government has taken back some companies sold to private businesses under the MMD and has appeared to clamp down on foreign investors.”
The editorial comes following a brief “public relations” type visit by Vice President Guy Scott to Johannesburg, where he sought to dismiss increasing concerns over political deterioration, expropriations and deportations, and even the possibility of exchange controls.
The authors write: “Harassment of the political opposition is another matter that has vexed investors. An inability to tolerate dissenting views is always a bad sign in democracies and is viewed as anti-business. (…) the government must do substantially more to educate investors about what it is trying to achieve and how it is going about it. This is no time to hide its head in the sand.”
They conclude: “With recent rapid growth in countries such as Angola and Mozambique, the region cannot be seen to be undermining efforts to tap and utilise foreign direct investment. Zambia, or any other country in the region, must strive not to hurt these important strides through poor communication and ambiguity about policies and intentions.”