On more than one occasion, particularly in conversations about the ZSE, I’ve spoken about the lack of viable short term investment alternatives in Zimbabwe. So much so Zimbabweans were fleeced of at least US$1.9 million in just 3 short weeks by now-defunct Ponzi scheme KWD Digital marketing. What this highlights is the appetite Zimbabweans have for investment. I thought it would be appropriate to also assess the long term investment alternatives in the nation.
What is an investment?
Just to be clear on the subject we are looking at investments only. Ideally, situations where you are putting in money and maybe a little organising. Running a fully-fledged business like forestry does not count. We have a turbulent economy historically so we are also looking at investments that primarily preserve value even in times of difficulty.
There’s been quite the furore over how expensive real estate has become in Zimbabwe. Prices of property in Zimbabwe now easily outpace South Africa and given the economic conditions it boggles the mind. The fact of the matter is over the long term property owners in Zimbabwe have seen appreciation in property valuations. It’s not all roses and sunshine though. Real estate is often touted for its other income stream which is rental income. Rental income in Zimbabwe is ridiculously low compared to the rest of the world. Be that as it may, property represents one of the best long term investments available to Zimbabweans.
Every time I mention the ZSE people are quick to refer to its recent closure and the risks associated with such actions. In the scheme of things 2 closures 10 years apart isn’t really that bad. On a serious note despite the closures, the ZSE had continued to provide value in the long and short term for investors. Add to that new shiny VFEX which recorded its first trade recently and will hopefully increase listings in 2021. Our currency issues have not made playing the stock market in Zimbabwe easier. In the long run, there have been winners thanks to shares and the stock market.
Over the counter investment products have been in the doldrums in the last couple of years. The recently gazetted Statutory Instrument 268 of 2020 will allow insurance companies in Zimbabwe to receive premiums in US dollars and settle policy claims in US dollars. Of course, insurance companies lead the OTC market in terms of short and long term investment products so there is the potential for their return to the market.
What is abundantly clear is that the long term investment space in Zimbabwe leaves a lot to be desired. There are very options. This is consistent with the state of the economy in the long term and other popular long term investment vehicles such as bonds (the long term debt instruments not a currency issued to eventually replace the US dollar as legal tender) are not viable in our nation. In the words of Muhammad Yunus in Banker to the poor “Poor people do not lack income, they lack a way to preserve their income to create wealth”. You could draw the same conclusion about poor nations.