Change in Zimbabwe will be good for property

Hopes are high for a peaceful regime change in Zimbabwe - and for the positive spin-offs that it would bring in terms of foreign aid and investment.

Also on the cards would be a renewal of the local property market, and increased foreign interest in property in the whole SADC region, says Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group, which has just announced plans to open offices in Zimbabwe as well as Zambia.

"In fact, international investors are already showing interest in Zimbabwe as signs grow that the Mugabe-era is drawing to a close.

"And that positive sentiment will be good for property, not only in countries to the north of us but in SA, where cautious overseas investors have for some time regarded the market as being tainted both by concerns over the collapse of the Zimbabwe economy and by the SA government's unwillingness to tackle the issue openly.

Reuters reported this week that Russian investment bank Renaissance is already active in Zimbabwe and that Citigroup has apparently approved a $25m deal to buy 20 percent of Zimbabwe bank African Banking Corporation.

Meanwhile the Lonrho mining group, which is listed in London, has announced plans to raise $140m to expand its operations in Zimbabwe and the Mwana mining group, which has a nickel project in Zimbabwe, has seen its share price climb 20 percent this week.

Zimbabwe has vast reserves of gold, nickel, palladium, platinum and ferrochrome, and is slated to benefit from high global commodity prices once efforts to revive its economy start to bear fruit. And Britain is already working with Europe, the UN and the IMF on an aid programme to provide the estimated R1bn a year it would take to get the country back on its feet.

"The stage is thus set for foreign aid and contract workers to come pouring into Zimbabwe," says Everitt, "and on top of this, some 2m to 3m Zimbabweans who fled their country are likely to start returning home.

"This will no doubt bring about a recovery in the property market and those already positioned there will do well. Indeed, we are already getting enquiries for Zimbabwe properties to buy and to let and we believe our timing in opening a Harare office is spot on."
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