CEOs chart economic revival path

A private sector initiative, its purpose was to bring together a wide range of views from chief executives on how to make Zimbabwe’s economy grow by an average 10% annually until it gets to the US$100 billion GDP mark by 2040. The economic growth rate for this year is forecast at 9,4%.

Conference convener Kenias Mafukidze, who initiated the CEOs Roundtable, stressed that the starting point was for the vision to be in the mindset of the people.

Business Council of Zimbabwe chairperson David Govere set 10 imperatives that would help the country achieve the growth. These included a clear national vision which would result in national confidence building. Govere said infrastructure development, financing of agriculture, value addition of minerals and cluster development would all work towards full public and private sector partnerships.

He proposed an action plan where the various industry bodies in the country would take a lead on. For instance, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries would pursue the development and growth of the energy sector, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce would be in charge of transport and the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe would look into cluster development.

In terms of business confidence and corporate governance, the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Council of Tourism would take the lead while the Chamber of Mines would deal with mineral value addition.

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara reiterated the need for the country to develop economic clusters around the area where resources were found, for example the Lupane area around teak and the Marange area around diamonds.

It was generally agreed that in order to achieve the desired target of a US$100 billion GDP, the issue of the national debt, which is more than US$9 billion, had to be resolved.

Economic Planning and Investment Promotion minister Tapiwa Mashakada emphasised that the US$100 billion mark was just a number; its content, value and scope had to cater for all the things for social reasons.

He was particularly concerned that Zimbabwe had reached unsustainable debt levels.

Government had established a debt office for the debt stock but Zimbabwe did not have the capacity to start servicing the debt. Mashakada added that the country could not apply for the IMF’s Highly Indebted Poor Country status as this would entail being put on a monitoring programme where resources would be directed to sectors nominated by the IMF.

Mashakada said that all stakeholders had to articulate a developmental state where the role of the state had to be brought to the fore, the middle class strongly developed and on the whole, the country leveraged on its resources.

“We need to apply our minds to the role securitisation will play in terms of foreign direct investments,” Mashakada urged.

The conference agreed that infrastructure would lead to growth, particularly in the development of the energy  and transport sectors. Delegates also concurred that the country needed to get its politics right.  Prime Minister  Morgan Tsvangirai said that an expected watershed election would have a direct impact on economic planning.

He said government had the biggest role to play in the economic agenda by ensuring that there was policy consistency and policy predictability.
“Mixed messages from the same government, violence, hate speech and lack of implementation of agreed reforms cannot set the correct tone for our national dream. As a nation, we have to address our poisoned politics if we are to confound our critics and create the necessary environment for growth and investment,” Tsvangirai said.

He noted that there was need for the country to make realistic projections.

“We need to ask ourselves if we are going to achieve what we have set for ourselves. The whole process hinges on collective momentum,” Tsvangirai said. 

The UNDP forum on the launch of the Human Development country report noted that the underlying theme on the Zimbabwean economy was that there was no fiscal space. Because of the lack of fiscal space there was need to find creative alternatives and move away from just the accounting process.  The UNDP recommended that Zimbabwe had to go beyond balancing the books, as GDP or per capita growth were just averages.

Market analyst Jerome Negonde said that it was easy for anyone to come up with numbers and variables on where they want the GDP mark to be, but this had to be supported by fundamentals. 

Analysts say that the whole growth process hinges on what is happening at the macro level. Without sustainable fundamentals the country cannot pursue economic growth.

Delegates at the conference noted that before stakeholders in the economy started on mobilizing resources to fund the growth there was need to get the statistics right. They maintained that the actual GDP figure at the moment was unknown, as was that of national debt, while the inflation figures were disputed among economic commentators. Economic Planning minister Mashakada acknowledged that the statistical agency ZimStats had broken down and all steps were being taken to ensure that the agency tries to capture all the data accurately.

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