As the results season for the financial year ended June 30 draws near to its close, it is clear that results published by most companies listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange do not give the high optimism that the economy should be having by now, five years into the multicurrency regime.
Zimbabwe Independent Editorial
Many of the listed companies must be commended for delivering under very trying conditions characterised by serious illiquidity, shrinking capacity utilisation and demand.
Some solutions businesses have come up with include increasing productivity, reducing costs wherever possible, including rationalising the workforce. All with the attendant catastrophic consequences. Other companies, such as TN Harlequinn Furniture, have been innovative by registering their companies offshore to rid them of the Zimbabwe label.
This has opened doors. But there’s the rub. The Zimbabwean label has unfortunately been a very negative one, hence South Africans, supposedly our bosom buddies were and are not willing to buy our label, but, as in the case of TN Harlequinn, under a Mauritian tag.
So our companies can hardly use the Proudly Zimbabwean brand. And there is only so much magic that companies can perform. Politics and business are so closely intertwined and are the backbone of an economy. While businesses have done much, the political leg has been a serious letdown.
Unless there is a concerted attempt to tackle the political issues that face us, business cannot innovate as much as it likes, but will eventually fall on its face.
The reason South Africans were not willing to buy Zimbabwe as in the case of TN was not a business consideration of price or quality.
It was the political image of the product. It is now time for the politicians to launch a diplomatic offensive with the countries that have labelled us pariahs. An instructive example is that made by the new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Likewise, it’s time for Zimbabwe to engage those who imposed sanctions in constructive dialogue and not public sparring.
Yes, politicians are given to posturing, but we all know that talk is cheap. We can continue hurling insults at Britain and the United States till the cows come home, but this will not deliver results on the ground.
We’ll be just like cartoonist Johnny Hart’s Curse Exchange. Our politicians need to give our business sector serious support. First and foremost they must stop paying lip-service to tackling corruption.
Everyone can see that so far corruption is being managed, not confronted. And yet the country is bleeding billions through corruption, something it cannot afford. Our politicians must also understand that while they can defend sovereignty politically, in economic terms sovereignty does not translate into monopoly.
Zimbabwe may be a sovereign state but it has no monopoly over economic factors of production. And one crucial factor of production, capital, is very mobile.