The Sunday Mail
Africa Moyo and Livingstone Marufu
INDUSTRY and commerce march into the New Year tomorrow with high hopes for better economic fortunes riding on the consistent pronouncements of “business unusual” by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, which have also been buttressed by the 2018 National Budget.
President Mnangagwa, who was sworn-in on November 24, has spoken about the need for all citizens to pull in the same direction if the economy is to turn around. Agriculture, foreign direct investment, re-engaging the international community, and a brutal fight against corruption, have been identified as the key pillars to economic transformation under the new administration.
Since November 24, all public announcements by President Mnangagwa and his ministers have been consistent on creating a conducive investment platform, and a culture of hard work, so as to boost the economy and create more jobs.
Critically, the new regime has clarified the Indigenisation Act, whose 51/49 percent provision in favour of locals, had caused chaos among foreign investors. Already, there is a flurry of activity as foreign investors are reportedly jostling to take advantage of the numerous investment opportunities and incentives in the country.
Similarly, the fight against corruption – whose early casualties include former Finance Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo, former Midlands Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Jason Machaya and former sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane – has been lauded by industrialists as the sure foot forward for the country.
Discipline indeed was lacking in the country. In his inauguration speech, President Mnangagwa conceded that the “task at hand is that of rebuilding our great country” is huge and uppermost in his plans.
“It principally lies with none but ourselves. Therefore, I exhort beneficiaries of the land reform programme to show their deservedness by demonstrating commitment to the utilisation of the land now available to them for national food security and for the recovery of our economy.
“Our economic policy will be predicated on our agriculture, which is the mainstay and on creating conditions for an investment-led economic recovery that puts premium on job creation . . .
“Acts of corruption must stop forthwith. Where these occur, swift justice must be served to show each and all that crime and other acts of economic sabotage can only guarantee ruin to perpetrators,” said President Mnangagwa.
Industrialists want to ride on the pronouncements by the new administration to ramp up capacity utilisation, which declined to 45,1 percent this year from 47,4 percent last year. Capacity utilisation went down due to a myriad of challenges such as foreign currency shortages, waning disposable incomes and therefore demand and cash shortages, among others.
CZI president Mr Sifelani Jabangwe recently said industry’s prospects for 2018 were bright due to the new administration’s pro-business approach.
“The prospects for 2018 look very bright given the pronouncements by His Excellency (President Mnangagwa) in all his speeches. What is left is to implement all the pronouncements, which include tackling of corruption, cutting Government expenditure and review of the indigenisation policy.
“If industry takes heed of President Mnangagwa’s call to refrain from wantonly hiking prices, 2018 will be a better year for every Zimbabwean.
“The 2018 National Budget has super ingredients for a successful New Year and if backed and aligned properly, the 4,5 percent national growth rate is achievable,” said Mr Jabangwe. Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) chief executive officer Mr Christopher Mugaga said President Mnangagwa had started on a strong footing.
“The President’s ability tackle real challenges in the economy is quite refreshing. His recent tone against price hikes is welcome as he believes in tackling the real offenders of price hikes at a time when some companies are being allocated foreign currency.
“He prohibited the legislation against price hikes as it will be disastrous to industry as it will cause the disappearance of goods on the shelves,” said Mr Mugaga.
Mr Mugaga said the economy can also grow exponentially if the 2018 Monetary Policy Statement, which is set to be presented by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya in January, addresses several issues such as the cash and foreign currency shortages negatively impacting on businesses.