Hold Your plans, GNU Tells Industry

ZIMBABWE’S new government is having to take emergency action in every state sector to counter years of collapse, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told business leaders Thursday.

“We are in an emergency situation,” Tsvangirai told business leaders.

“This is fire fighting we are doing. We are talking of emergency interventions in various sectors,” said Tsvangirai.

Outlining massive skills flight in government departments, Tsvangirai said he had already been told horror stories by cabinet members.

“The ministers have just been in office for two days,” Tsvangirai said.

“Some of them are telling me horror stories about the state of their ministries.

“The Ministry of Public Works is supposed to have 60 engineers but they only have two. The Ministry of Mines has 96 posts but they only have 20 people including those who make tea,” he said.

“How do you effectively discharge your mandate with such limited resources?”

Tsvangirai vowed to act on fresh farm invasions and corruption to promote investment to the country’s tanked economy.

“Corruption will not be tolerated and those that practise and promote corruption will be actively sought out and prosecuted by this government,” he said.

“We are concerned at the upsurge of illegal occupation of farmland,” he added.

“We are dealing with that”.

Speaking at the same occasion, deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara advised industry and commerce to shelve business plans they made based on the national budget and monetary policy measures announced in January and this month, saying the new government was reviewing the two policies.

Mutambara said the new government would push towards freeing the country’s bartered economy from existing government controls.

These remarks came after then acting Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa presented a budget in January that was followed by the monetary policy statement issued by Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono, early this month.

“Putting it simply, don’t base your plans on what Chinamasa or Gono said,” warned Mutambara.

“They (national budget and monetary policy) will be reviewed.

There will be fundamental reviews on those two documents. Just give us time.”

Chinamasa proposed a US$1,9 billion budget that sought to free the economy but fell short the expectations of the private sector.

In his policy statement Gono said traders using foreign currency would continue to pay license fees, a measure that has since been removed by new Finance minister, Tendai Biti.

Tsvangirai criticised existing policies set by the Zanu PF-led government for the sharp decline in productivity.
“All export sectors,” Tsvangirai said, “have been negatively impacted by policies pursued in the past that gave birth to rampant black market activities, transferring value to fly by night businesspeople…Controls have not worked anywhere and they will not work here.”

He said the business community has crucial role to play in the stabilization of the economy.

“Prices of goods and services available in Zimbabwe are often significantly more than double those of South Africa,” Tsvangirai said.

“Therefore, in light of the ongoing stimulus and stabilisation activities, I ask you to also revaluate your business models to match our efforts. This is also in your best interest as part of our stabilisation and stimulation measures, we will encourage competition through allowing industry to price its goods in the most cost effective and price competitive and responsible way,” he said.

Tsvangirai said the government had engaged South Africa with a view to use the Rand as the standard currency in Zimbabwe.

“I don’t want to pre-empt this, but we are really engaging the South Africans to make sure we can discuss (using the Rand) to provide relief,” he said.

“Our kith and kin in the Diaspora should be the first point of call as we spread our influence abroad. They should be the conduit through which we increase our exports and channels which we raise international finance.”

Speaking in the wake of an offer by the British government to resettle senior citizens struggling in its former colony, Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe’s tattered international reputation needed to be mended.
“We have to rebrand the country,” Tsvangirai said.

“We have been seriously damaged. We want to see people coming rather than being evacuated from Zimbabwe.” — Staff Writers/AFP.

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