Speaking at the Chakaona-Muunganirwa Irrigation Scheme in Bindura District Ambassador Ray said, “American business leaders see the opportunities that come with Zimbabwe’s economic recovery but they worry about the security of their investments”.
“The violence of how land reform was carried out in the past is the main reason for this concern. As Zimbabwe moves into its future, perhaps its greatest challenge is to show its own citizens and foreign investors alike that their claims to property are safe”’ added Ray.
He added, “Whether you are a farmer with leasehold, a business holding the title to a warehouse, or an investor with shares in a company, you will not be able to prosper unless everyone knows that your claim to that property is secure and cannot be taken away from you without due process.”
He said to create the sense of security that Zimbabweans and foreign investors require, it is vital that the rules be both clear and consistently applied.
The American investors have the same message: “uncertainty around property rights is a deal breaker”.
Ambassador Ray added that both American businesses and the American government do not oppose empowerment or more equitable distribution of national wealth adding that true empowerment is not achieved at the expense of one’s neighbor.
“But as Zimbabwe pursue these objectives, I hope you will remember that true empowerment does not come at your neighbor’s expense,” Ray said.
He added that politically motivated dispossession and retaliation create conflict, not empowerment.
Over 5,000 families in Bindura and Guruve districts have become more productive and increased their incomes. That means over 20,000 people in this area are better off, and thousands of children are able to stay in school.
Ambassador Ray said, “The U.S. strongly opposes the violence and displacement through which land reform was achieved and which ended or disrupted far too many lives.
More than ten years after the controversial land reform program new farmers have failed to feed the nation and the once bread basket of Africa is now an empty shell.
Past controversial policies of ZANU PF government has seen the unemployment rate rising to over 80%.