Going bananas in Zimbabwe


I cannot for the life of me imagine why any businessman would want to invest in Zimbabwe.

Look what happened to one such business venture, a Malaysian-Dutch firm Matanuska, which had its banana plantation seized by a retired army general-turned-Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Tanzania.

Perhaps Matanuska thought its interests would be protected by Zimbabwe’s Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (Bippa) with Malaysia. Under this agreement, the firm was reportedly offered land but not title to the land. Or maybe they thought Malaysia enjoyed a special relationship with Zimbabwe!

The former general claimed that the property had been granted to him under Mugabe’s land reform programme under which white-owned farms were seized and handed over to landless black citizens.

The investors are now trying to regain control of their banana plantation. As one political economist told me, “If they are willing to invest in Robert Mugabe’s lawless country, they should not then complain that they are losing out due to the lawlessness there.”

Check out the story here, here, and here.

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15 Jun 2010 11.21am

These Malaysians are (perhaps) so used to be cronies here and had the expectation of the same as cronies of Mugabe. Unfortunately, it did not work the same way. Zimbabwe is more lawless than Malaysia. Malaysia is getting there but not yet. So I say good luck to them.

15 Jun 2010 11.03am

“Birds of a feather flock together”…only this time, the Malaysian “Smart A##” came home featherless!!

15 Jun 2010 9.05am

Such ventures are basically wildcatting – no different than hunting for gold or oil. There will always be adventurous people who do this..