President Mugabe has urged foreign investors, particularly those from countries under the ambit of the Smart Partnership Dialogue, to take advantage of limitless opportunities in Zimbabwe’s economic sectors where they are guaranteed of getting the highest return on their investment.
In a well-received presentation after the official opening of the 9th Langkawi International Dialogue in Malaysia yesterday, Cde Mugabe said there were boundless opportunities in the country’s agro-processing, mining, manufacturing and tourism sectors.
He said such opportunities were also available in other African countries whose leaders had fully em-braced the Smart Partnership spirit and principles to pave the way for greater economic co-operation with other participating countries in Asia, Europe and the Americas.
“The African continent, Zimbabwe in particular, offers an array of limitless opportunities in terms of the investment potential in the agro-processing, mining development, manufacturing, tourism and the infrastructural areas of power, water, roads, rail, air, telecommunications and information communication technology.
“You are invited to participate and add value to developments in these sectors,” said President Mugabe.
Titled “Perspectives of the Smart Partnership Spirit – Delivering Socio-Economic Transformation”, the President’s presentation highlighted how the dialogue had enabled the sharing of ideas and experiences on how to tackle emerging global issues such as climate change, world financial crises and inequalities obtaining at such global institutions as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank among others.
The presentation was the first by a foreign Head of State after host Prime Minister Mr Najib Razak, officially opened the dialogue at the futuristic Putrajaya International Conference Centre about 60km outside Malaysia’s commercial capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Putrajaya is the new seat of the Malaysian federal government.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said the birth of the Smart Partnership Dialogue process in Malaysia in 1995 had unlocked an opportunity for further co-operation aimed at finding solutions to problems in regional economic communities such as Sadc, Comesa, the East African Community (EAC) and ASEAN bloc.
“It is fair to say that had African leaders not fully embraced the Smart Partnership Spirit and principles, the pace of merging the three existing trade blocs covering the central, eastern, and southern Africa with a combined population of almost 600 million and a Gross Domestic Product of US$900 billion, would have been much, much slower and in the process, we would have been the much poorer,” he said.
On a regional scale, smart partnership dialogues had first been held in Botswana in 1997 and later in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, Swaziland and Uganda to enhance public, private, academia, civil society and labour sector partnerships.
The dialogues had encouraged the “win-win” and “prosper thy neighbour” philosophy giving unparalleled opportunities for political leaders, labour, business, media, civil society, academia and youths to meet and share ideas without due regard to one’s position.
President Mugabe paid tribute to the founder of the dialogue process, former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for pioneering the Smart Partnership ethos and applying its core values and principles in delivering the sustainable socio-economic transformation in the country’s society.
“Today, as we look back to the time when your leadership under former Premier Mahathir Mohamad first espoused the key principles of Smart Partnership and “Prosper thy neighbour”, we are inspired by the phenomenal strides that your country has made in transforming a once predominantly agricultural economy that is on the verge of realising some of the imperatives of your national vision.
“Malaysia, which initiated the Smart Partnership Dialogue process, is a real source of inspiration to us all. The phenomenal achievements and socio-economic transformation realised by Malaysia clearly epitomises the Smart Partnership spirit and principles.
Cde Mugabe said in each of the African countries where the dialogue had been held, smart partnership hubs had been created.
In Zimbabwe, the National Economic Consultative Forum had become an important institution in the development and implementation of policy.
Cde Mugabe said the development of the Transfrontier Park between Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique as well as the Zambezi Transfrontier Park encompassing Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia had been a result of such dialogues.
“As we look back at these achievements, we should now work closely together in identifying possible areas for partnerships in the region and beyond.
“We should now ensure the establishment and growth of spatial development initiatives or economic developments corridors with our private sector institutions taking the lead.
“The recently held Malaysia-Africa Business Forum therefore signals the beginning of this new trend whose success we must ensure and uphold.”
Mugabe, however, sounded a warning on the threat posed by powerful nations who went bent on interfering in the internal affairs of developing nations.
He said interference from external forces always impeded development in Third World countries particularly former colonies reiterating the need to economically empower previously disadvantaged groups.
Failure to deal decisively with the issue of innovative financing to support and aid the growth of small to medium scale enterprises, especially in rural areas, was a challenge Smart Partners needed to address.
Mr Razak said LID 2011 was the symbol of continuing and dynamic co-operation between Asian, African and Caribbean countries adding that Malaysia was looking at strengthening trade relations particularly with African countries.
He said focus would be placed on transferring intensive technology to countries with less capital but plenty of labour.
Mr Razak called on countries to be innovative in the face of globalisation.
“Innovative countries have developed a competitive edge over those that wait to follow what others have done. Countries with knowledge-based economies have done well and we can look at the example of Scandinavian countries which relatively have small populations but extremely high standards of living,” he said adding that Malaysia was on course to become a fully developed economy by the targeted year 2020.
Eighteen African countries have sent high-powered delegations to LID 2011 while there has been participation by other countries from the Caribbean and Asia.
Soon after the opening ceremony, Heads of State and Government toured some stands at a business exhibition held on the sidelines of the dialogue.