THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has bemoaned the high levels of corruption in the country, resulting in the diversion of foreign currency allocated to industry by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
By Kudzai Kuwaza
The development comes at a time when there is a debilitating liquidity crunch and an acute cash shortage that has severely crippled industry which cannot import critical inputs for their operations.
Last year, the central bank came up with an import priority list for the efficient allocation of the scarce foreign exchange.
Addressing participants at the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) collective bargaining summit in Nyanga last week, CZI chief executive Clifford Sileya described the corruption in the country as “murderous”.
“One company which supplies oxygen to hospitals has not received allocation of foreign currency for three months,” Sileya said.
“The Reserve Bank governor (John Mangudya) nearly fell off his chair when he heard this saying he sent an allocation weekly. Seriously this is corruption which is certainly murderous.”
Sileya said at a time the country is looking to reduce the number of licences needed for one to operate a company, new licences were being imposed. He cited the example of the livestock levy which was recently introduced that would burden companies instead of helping to enhance their operations.
Sileya revealed that as a result of the economic challenges, the CZI has stopped buying cars for its managers as a cost cutting measure.
He bemoaned the failure of the former president Robert Mugabe-led government to go with business delegations whenever they travelled for talks on trade with other countries.
Sileya told delegates at the Emcoz conference that South African President Jacob Zuma travels with a large entourage of 200 businesspeople, but in Zimbabwe businesspeople were shunned in favour of civil servants who go on these trips to received travel and subsistence allowances.
In his welcoming address at the summit, Emcoz vice-president Israel Murefu said he hoped the departure of former president Mugabe and the inauguration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa will signal a new era for the country.
“An era has ended. We start on a new journey, a new beginning. My only hope is that both as individuals and collectively, as a nation, we have learnt some powerful lessons,” Murefu said.
“While this is the end of an era, it is the expectation that this is a new beginning where inclusivity rather than exclusivity will be the way forward.”
Murefu bemoaned the lack of an enabling environment for the labour market to thrive.
“The government is supposed to contribute by creating an enabling environment for sustainable enterprises, and we then step in, set up and operationalise those enterprises,” Murefu said.
“For a long time now, it has not always worked like that. The environment has not been enabling, in fact, most economic commentators have described it as toxic and enterprises have not been sustainable. This is why economic growth as measured by the Gross Domestic Product, has averaged 1,5% to 2,5% per annum since 2009 against an annual population rate of increase of 2,5% for the period.”
Murefu said policy inconsistency, high cost of production and corruption have largely contributed to the country’s economic performance being the worst of any country outside a war zone.
“I now appeal that we focus on what we can contribute in creating the enabling environment for sustainable enterprises,” Murefu said.
“That, coupled with systems of good governance, is the only way to building the Zimbabwe we want and can all be proud of.”
The summit was held under the theme: Horizon Decent Work.