President Cyril Ramaphosa, right, and minister of economic development Ebrahim Patel in Davos, in Switzerland, January 23 2019. Picture: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa, right, and minister of economic development Ebrahim Patel in Davos, in Switzerland, January 23 2019. Picture: GCIS

The turmoil in Zimbabwe has not come up in meetings with potential investors, who are more concerned about the long-term prospects for SA's economy, economic development minister Ebrahim Patel said on Wednesday. 

“Zimbabwe hasn't come up once,” Patel said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting, under way in Davos, Switzerland.

Potential investors were concerned, rather, about “governance, stability and where the growth story is going to be coming” from in SA, he said.

The latest bout of turbulence in Zimbabwe, sparked by a more than 150% increase in fuel prices that left the impoverished country with the highest prices in the world, came on the eve of President Cyril Ramaphosa's leading a delegation to Davos with the express aim of selling the country as an investment destination.

The crises in Zimbabwe have been blamed in the past for a worsening of investors’ perceptions of the whole region.

“Of course, a stable and democratic Zimbabwe is good for the region, and I don't want to underplay that,” Patel said. 

SA's delegation had received a “warm” reception from business leaders in Davos, who, while having short-term concerns about issues such as the reliability of energy supply, wanted to look at the country's long-term prospects.

“There is deep concern among South African investors about the Eskom story, while international investors are more concerned about long-term energy security,” he said.

Stories showing that there were “multiple state-capture” schemes in the country showed the need for vigilance.

Lawyers and activists say Zimbabwean police and soldiers have killed at least a dozen people, wounded scores and arrested hundreds there since protests began 10 days ago.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has accused security forces of systematic torture, raising fears that the country is reverting to the authoritarianism that characterised the rule of president Emmerson Mnangagwa's predecessor, Robert Mugabe.

With Reuters

mnyandal@businesslive.co.za