Emmerson Mnangagwa at the World Economic Forum in Davos

Zimbabwe is Open for Business was mantra adopted by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government in November 2017 after his inauguration. It was a campaign to invite investors to invest in Zimbabwe. It was also an attempt to re-engage politically and economically with western countries mainly the EU and the United States of America at that time.

Mnangagwa's self proclaimed New Dispensation sought to be perceived as having shifted from former president Robert Mugabe's policies which they said had isolated Zimbabwe.

Foreign trips

As part of the effort to re-engage internationally, President Mnangagwa went on several foreign trips to meet with heads of states.

In April 2018, after criticism from Zimbabweans that the foreign trips were a needless waste of resource the president post on Facebook:

Let us remember where we were, and how we suffered as an isolated nation. In this new era Zimbabwe is open to the world, and governments, businesses and individuals all are looking to do business with us. The new Zimbabwe must embrace the international community in order to secure crucial foreign investment. These projects will create jobs, and foreign investment will inject crucial cash into our economy.[1]


There was criticism of the mantra especially following events by the government that were considered counter-productive to the campaign.

In March 2019, Zimbabwean academic and activist Professor Brian Raftopoulos said it was now clear that Zimbabwe was not open for business as there were no political and economic reforms needed to make this mantra yield results. He also said western countries such as the United Kingdom, which had initially warmed up to Mnangagwa's new government had also realised no reforms were forthcoming.

August 1 Post-election Killings

Before the announcement of the July 2018 presidential election results, government responded violently to protests by MDC supporters who felt that the election results were being manipulated to give Emmerson Mnangagwa presidential victory. The government deployed soldiers on the streets resulting in the shooting and killing of at least 6 civilians, some who were not part of the protest. The violence of civilians was seen as a demonstration that Mnangagwa's government had not shifted from methods used by the previous government of Robert Mugabe.

Kneeling Soldier Shoots Into Crowd August 1 20918 Zimbabwe

January 2019 Violent Crackdown on Protestors

In January 2019, a Shutdown Zimbabwe stayaway called for by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions turned violent after protestors barricaded roads with burning tires and huge rocks. Protestors also looted shops in Harare and Bulawayo and some cars were burnt, including a ZUPCO bus. The government yet again responded by deploying soldiers and other security forces on the streets and into suburbs. The security forces shot at protesting crowds and eventually went door to door especially in high density suburbs, violently beating men and sometimes women. Several civilians were also arrested. At the end of the crackdown by government, about 17 civilians were reported dead.

The government also shutdown the internet during the protests only opening in several days later.

The episode was also considered a sign that the new government was similar or worse that the previous one in methods of responding to citizen expression.

The government accused the opposition and civil society of working with outside forcese to effect regime change.

Economic depression and Failure honour payments to business

In May 2019, major gold producer Metallon Corporation sued the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe over its failure to pay for gold deliveries. Th company said that government was failing to pay US$82 million in gold proceeds. The gold miner is suing for US$132 million which includes lack of profit and interest.[2]


  1. Takunda Maodza, President hits back at critics, The Herald, Published: 07 Apr 2018, Retrieved: 25 Sep 2019
  2. Kudzai Kuwaza, Open for business mantra collapses, Zimbabwe Independent, Published: 24 May 2019, Retrieved: 25 Sep 2019