Change Your Ways, Business Tells Unity Government

GEORGE Orwell must have had a future Zimbabwe in sights and when he penned his classic novel Animal Farm which satirises how greed, personal interests and petty issues can betray a revolution.


Not only do the principals to the Global Political Agreement know what needs to be done to ensure that industry and the economy is revived, but “greed, personal interests and petty issues” seem to be slowing the economic recovery of the country.
For most Zimbabweans an economic recovery among other things would ensure an environment of affordable basic commodities and utilities, reliable electricity and clean water supplies, employment creation, reliable and affordable health system and education and more investments.
Business leaders, directors and economist who spoke to businessdigest during the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) annual congress on Wednesday and yesterday lamented how differences among the principals in the power-sharing had slowed down pace of the revival of the economy.
Economic analysts said a new way of doing business was critical in view of the multiple currency system where such practices as low-volume; high mark-ups were being practised by business.
Speakers during the first two days of the congress said government should “urgently” change the way it has been operating if economic growth was to be achieved.
Analysts also said Zimbabweans need to move away from “talking too much to more positive action”. CZI president Kumbirai Katsande said as business, they agreed that the inclusive government should be seen as an instrument, “rather than as a destination in itself”.
“The inclusive government should create an environment for all to develop competitive capabilities regardless of the sector,” he said.
Katsande said such an environment was imperative given the Sadc and Comesa trade agreements and events on the global market.
“For this inclusive government to be worth it, the politicians and the entrepreneurs must go for continuous environment. There is no time to watch the grass grow. (We should) eliminate waste, act with speed, respect regional and global bench-marking in all aspects,” Katsande said.
The congress comes at a time when devaluation and concessionary funding are no longer an option and companies will have to exercise price, cost and wage restraint to ensure that prices are not above regional levels.
Drought of finance including working capital means companies will be more reliant than ever before on foreign lines of credit.
University of Zimbabwe School of Management lecturer, Anthony Hawkins said national macro-economic strategies should be developed to enable businesses to discover where their competitive advantages lie. “Firms need to develop new business models because those employed over the last 20 years have long passed their sell-by date.
 “The integrated commercial farming-manufacturing dynamo that drove growth prior to 2000 is no longer a viable policy option,” Hawkins said. Hawkins said while there was a fixation on capacity utilisation there was need to invest in new investment, new technologies and new production, product and marketing strategies.
“The lesson is that manufacturers must forget their past, especially the recent past and move up market, up the technological ladder and away from the poor goods syndrome in which we are currently locked,” he said.
“Government’s role is to level the playing field leaving individual firms to invest in output, exports and employment where they think they can make a profit,” said Hawkins.
Economist Brains Muchemwa said apart from personal interest and small issues slowing the rate which the economy was recovering, rigidities associated with scarce domestic working capital, as well as the ill-guided international perception that Zimbabwe is not ready for meaningful investments had slowed the progress of revival.
“At a time the world is in a crunch, it will take more to convince the few investors that have pots of cash to splash on seemingly discounted opportunities in Zimbabwe when equal opportunities exist in emerging markets riding on lower perceived country risk,” Muchemwa said.
Speaking at the same occasion University of Zimbabwe political scientist, Professor Eldred Masunungure who gave a political analysis of the risks and opportunities in the country said the unity government “had brought in a lot of positives but outstanding issues were derailing economic revival and investor confidence.
“The unity government has resulted to peace in the country as well as a stable macro-economic environment conducive for business. However there is need for the three political principals to ensure that all outstanding issues under the GPA are fully implemented to ensure continuity,” he said.
Business, he said needed to present its own outstanding issues, such as the creation of a National Economic Committee as spelt out in the GPA to ensure that it gets more involved in charting its destiny. Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe director Godfrey Kanyenze who gave a socio-economic overview said government needs to start taking responsibility for its actions in order to move forward.
“Government needs to start building a developmental state by coming up with a technically sound long-term development agenda to create an environment that is conducive for a quick economic recovery,” Kanyenze said.
This years congress was held under the theme “Re-igniting industrial productivity competitiveness.

 

Paul Nyakazeya

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