Addressing delegates at the second annual Buy Zimbabwe conference held in the capital this week, Mandiwanza said local business leaders and policy makers should focus on driving value formation rather than pursuing distributive and protectionist policies.
He said the problem was the economy was creating consumers and not productive jobs and, without production, there would be no value creation and the economy would continue to shift towards informalisation.
In an apparent reference to the growing informal sector where trading dominates production, Mandiwanza said the policy thrust should be to generate foreign currency and not to consume it.
Turning to the recently announced trade policy, Mandiwanza said Zimbabwean companies needed to be competitive and not rely on comparative advantages.
“Let’s not forget that consumers have a choice and they will buy from anywhere or anyone as long as they can afford it. I hope we are not talking protectionism here. We need a paradigm shift,” he said.
The buy Zimbabwe campaign is a platform that seeks to promote the consumption of Zimbabwean goods and services. However, due to limited capacity, inadequate finance, and antiquated technology, high labour and utility costs and Zimbabwean products are very expensive compared to imported equivalents.
Another panelist at the conference, Amos Mushaninga of the National Economic Consultative Forum, added that local products are suffering from quality issues.
“We have a situation where 80% of products on our supermarket shelves are imported, reducing the demand for local products,’’ he said, adding the economy was exporting jobs by importing finished products.
This was having downstream effects on raw material suppliers to industry such as farmers.