The mystic and magnificent Chinhoyi Caves has one myth. The myth has it that divers, if they attempt or if it is ever attempted, can swim through an underground channel leading to the gigantic Lake Kariba.
That would be a swim of more than 250 kilometres underground.
And that would be, if ever it is possible, one way of travelling to Zambia from Chinhoyi, the capital of Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland West province.
However, just like all myths, this has never been proven, although it adds to the intriguing story of Chirorodziva – the Sleeping Pool of Chinhoyi.
The myth captured the imagination of the Zambian Minister for the Southern Province, Dr Edify Hamukale, when he visited Chinhoyi to officiate at the Mashonaland West investment conference last week.
He liked the story that much to the extent of equating the ease of reaching Zambia through Kariba without having to fly to Lusaka for his counterparts in Mashonaland West to share ideas and partnerships with their counterparts in Mashonaland West.
It is so easy for Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland West and the Southern Province in Zambia to work together for the development of their citizenry, he said.
Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister, Webster Shamu, and Namibia’s Kavango East Region Governor, Ambassador Samuel Mbambo, also agreed totally with their Zambian counterpart.
Dr Hamukale said it was important for neighbouring provinces to integrate and explore investment potential for the benefit of the people.
He said globalisation had provided a major catalyst for co-operation and development.
“But it’s useful to step back and ask why investment is important and what it can do to the province and country at large.
“We live in a world of globalisation. The pace of technological change is staggering. The extent and speed in which innovation in one country crosses borders through exchanges of goods, capital and ideas is unprecedented.”
Globalisation, Dr Hamukale said, was unstoppable. “We cannot stop this process, but participate in it. We have to adapt globalisation and make it work for our citizen.
“Nations should try to minimise costs that come with the opening up of the global world, as high risks bring high returns. No risks, no returns.”
He called for partnerships between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
“Zambia and Zimbabwe are no-longer competitors, but rather partners that should complement each other. Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi are top 10 maize producers in Africa, but we are importing cornflakes, which are made with pure maize.
“We should work together and make sure we open joint companies between the neighbouring countries.”
He said agricultural production should also be enhanced so that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries can export the excess for income generation.
Among its advantages, Dr Hamukale said, globalisation gives rise to the prospect of growth and raising the living standards of the people while promoting free trade.
“Countries and neighbouring states can deploy the maximum extent possible and apply to the locals for friendly advantage leading to high income.
“Specialise in what you do and apply all your resources on that. Concentrate on what you know best with a view of lowering the gap between the rich and the poor,” he said.
There was also need, he said, to encourage both foreign direct investment and local direct investment while not looking for investors outside the SADC region.
“Sometimes the answers are just here, it is a lot cheaper for me to come to Mashonaland West from Zambia than boarding a plane to a far destination. Sometimes the answers are local.”
He urged SADC countries to embrace vertical, backward and horizontal integration.
“Vertical talks about businesses competing for the control of customers and markets, backward integration involves competing for supplies, then horizontal is competing in the market place.
“Hence the point, SADC countries are no longer competitors but rather partners. If SADC countries come together and establish business, they will be able to compete with the outside world, including the UK and Germany.”
SADC countries should also come with packages that jointly market their tourist attractions.
“We need to employ sectioned marketing instead of saying come and see Kariba to the tourist. We should say Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, among others, come together and put a package for destination where our tourists coming from wherever can go and make a stop in all the tourist attraction centres.”
He said SADC can take advantage of opportunities afforded by localisation and regional integration.
“This is a free and cheaper openness to trade and investment. Indeed around the world, interest in regional integration is long and one of its key benefits is triad investment, which in return leads to job creation for our local people, especially the youths.
“Measures to encourage investment are especially important in Southern Africa. Raising investment ratio is only part of the solution, raising productivity, which has also been chronically low in southern Africa is equally important.
“Some of the policies necessary to support FDI and local direct investment to promote growth in all SADC countries are macro-economic stability, inflation, employment and interest rates.”
Investors must be confident that they will not lose out due to pressurised deals, he added.
“Investors must be confident that they will be no crisis that will produce sudden reversals of policies that cause shocks. A continued political commitment to proven crystal policy and controlled inflation is therefore the first condition for the inclusion investment and promoting sustainable growth.”
Dr Hamukale said coordination was also important in tax policy making.
“Governments in the region are well aware of this and I would like to report that we are making headway in a number of important areas, including double taxation and transfer pricing.
“Another important issue is simplifying and harmonising tax incentives across the region. Better access to credit and financial services promote serving investments and also opportunities to the poor.”
Some Southern African countries have also taken the lead in measures which deepen human capital.
They target poverty eradication, including innovative conditional cash transfer programmes which include poor families to make specific investments in their children’s health and education.
“Actions like these are conducive to investment growth, but are also very important in their own right. The benefits of investments and growth are shared rightly in a particular reach to the poorest people,” he said.
Dr Hamukale said the SADC region was experiencing a wave of economic and financial globalisation, which have many benefits but not everyone was enjoying those benefits.
“We need to come up with a response that to those who have lost out from globalisation. But we can make an important contribution to policies with potential to deliver some of its benefits to the people,” he said.
Mashonaland West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Webster Shamu, emphasised the need for co-operation between SADC countries.
“What I notice is that, we can sometimes live in isolation, when in fact we are neighbours. We don’t visit each other, we don’t go and see what others are doing, we don’t learn from each other,” he said.
Zimbabwe has been living in isolation from the family of nations since the year 2000 after it embarked on the fast-track land reform programme, which irked western powers led by Britain and the United States of America.
Namibia’s Kavango East region’s governor Ambassador Samuel Mbambo also underscored the need for synergies within regions in SADC for the mutual benefit of their people.
The over-subscribed investment conference drew delegates from several countries such as India, Pakistan, China, Sudan, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.
The Mashonaland West is Open for Business investment conference also attracted more than 500 delegates, including local and international investors, senior government officials, representatives of local authorities and the corporate world. It discussed a variety of business opportunities that are available in the province.
The business conferences was one of such meetings being held across Zimbabwe and are organised by the Chartered Institute of Project Managers. They are designed to relay President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s message that Zimbabwe is Open for Business.
The conferences would be held at provincial, district and ward levels.