PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has criticised Zimbabwe’s business community for its continued over-reliance on Western markets at a time the country has seen an increase in tourist arrivals from Asia.
Opening the Fifth Session of the Fifth Parliament on Tuesday, Mugabe said although he had encouraged the business sector to break the spell towards the West for investments, imports, exports and loans, none had headed his calls.
“Traditional business enterprises that have shaped and defined our thrust are, in the majority of cases, unambitious subsidiaries of major companies in South Africa, Britain and America, caught in a time warp and hopelessly hide-bound,” Mugabe said.
“Consequently, enormous possibilities presented by the burgeoning third world economic regions doing much better than much-vaunted, yet risky and even declining, West have escaped us.”
Mugabe also announced that government had stopped the policy of blind privatisation, and the expectation was that parastatals – once reformed, commercialised and properly re-oriented – would be the cutting edge of the country’s economic policy.
The president’s comments come in the wake of a recent policy paper by the Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe which states that it has targeted nine parastatals for complete restructuring by 2006.
Mugabe said tourism had remained one of the country’s pillars of the economy, adding that the sector had since recorded growth from Asian markets.
“Already, statistics show an increase of 40% in arrivals from that region following the establishment of tourism promotional offices in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur,” he said. Although there has been concern about the government’s land-based wildlife management, which gives conservancy owners 25-year leases, Mugabe defended the move saying this was part of indigenisation.