President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s recent visit to New York broke from past tradition of making the annual United Nations General Assembly all about politics, with Zimbabwe’s leader focusing more on the economy and re-engagement, a senior Government official has said.

Zimbabwe’s Head of State and Government used the past week in New York to hold key meetings with leaders of several countries, as well as representatives of multilateral lenders and fund managers.

This, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said, signalled a change in priorities from the First to the Second Republic, and placed Zimbabwe in good stead to attract investment and turn around the economy.

Prof Ncube was part of President Mnangagwa’s delegation to the 73rd Ordinary Session of the UN General Assembly, along with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Dr John Mangudya.

Upon arrival in Harare from the United States yesterday morning, Prof Ncube said: “On the bilateral front, you listened to His Excellency’s speech at the UN … the reaction we have received from other countries, from the media in the US, is that it was a very good speech, it departed from the past when we had more political speeches.

“The speech focused on multilateralism and then quickly went on to talk about the economy, business, all around the mantra Zimbabwe is open for business.

It was well received and they were very pleased with that. It dovetailed with the message we are giving to the corporates and international financial institutions.

“We also had bilateral meetings with governments such as the UK, the US government, Belgium, even the International Court of Justice.

“So, we had wonderful bilateral meetings, and the message was clear again that these countries and institutions want to engage more and deeper with Zimbabwe. We met the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, as you know we are desirous to go back and join the family of the Commonwealth.

“Again they were clear to us in terms of the roadmap; they were warm and I think they will gladly welcome us back into the Commonwealth family.

Hopefully at the next summit in March 2020 that will be so and we join that family again.

“Overall, it was very successful. Even our officials at our (US and UN) embassies in New York were saying this was different. Each time there was a UN General Assembly they would just focus on that, but this time they worked so hard and had to accommodate all the corporate meetings that we had, and the (international financial institutions) meetings and other meetings.”

Prof Ncube said the sojourn to New York encompassed, “UN business, and then the business with investors in New York and globally, and also conversations with international financial institutions who support us as a country”.

“We had an investment forum that we put together. We met several of them, explained to them, presented to them the opportunities that Zimbabwe offers.

“There were several companies, it was just an array of companies I tell you, but all very serious investors who are interested in investing in Zimbabwe, interested in Africa and emerging markets,” he said.

“And they are keen to find out opportunities that exist across a variety of industries; in agriculture, in manufacturing, in infrastructure, financial services – right across the board. We had a lot of interest. We also visited the New York Stock Exchange.

Prof Ncube went on: “Also, we met a group of investors whom we call impact investors, those investors who make their profit from investing in projects whose objectives will change people’s lives.

“So, we were able to point them to some of the areas outside Harare, outside Bulawayo, the big centres, where they could realise opportunities in terms of tourism, wildlife, conservation and agriculture and so forth.

“It was all exploratory. Some of them are already investors in Zimbabwe by the way, so those investors were able to convey our message on to their colleagues. It’s all exploratory. They were all waiting to hear from us what Zimbabwe has to offer.

“The fact that they came means that they are interested, so we should see more follow through on that front.”

Prof Ncube said the delegation engaged international financial institutions on Zimbabwe’s debts and arrears, and a plan was being put in place to deal with the issue starting at the annual Bretton Woods meetings scheduled for Bali, Indonesia, this year.

Dr Mangudya said the delegation had been overwhelmed by the international goodwill it received, and Zimbabweans should take advantage of that to rebuild the economy.

“The goodwill we have seen out there is astonishing, it’s beyond measure and, therefore, what is now left is for Zimbabwe to open the door, to ensure that whatever we have promised happens,” he said.

“It’s one thing to talk about it, it’s another thing to do something about it. Let’s work together as a team and harness the goodwill. Zimbabwe requires all our efforts.

“From our side as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, we shall definitely do what is right for the economy. Some of the things will come out in the Monetary Policy Statement on Monday. We will walk the talk.”

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