Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa has challenged the recently appointed Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) board to spearhead an export-led growth of the economy and enhance the country’s capacity to earn foreign currency.
Minister Chinamasa said this yesterday when he met members of the SEZ Authority board led by former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono.
“Companies that locate into SEZ areas should give greater concentration into producing to supply the export market,” he said. “The board should, therefore, spearhead and drive an export led growth in the economy. If we have more exports it will mean more foreign currency.”
Minister Chinamasa said the SEZs should offer platforms for transfer of technology and managerial skills and an increase in Foreign Direct Investment.
“SEZs should create employment, and in this regard should lay clear guidelines requiring companies locating into SEZs to employ locals and to allow only foreign workers with specialised skills,” he said.
Minister Chinamasa implored the board to ensure that companies operating in SEZs built linkages with other firms operating outside the zones.
He said the board should implement some of the SEZs areas that have been approved by Cabinet.
These include the restoration of Bulawayo as the industrial hub of the country, development of Victoria Falls as SEZ in financial services, and the establishment of a SEZ Tourism Corridor connecting Victoria Falls, Hwange Game Park, Binga, Kariba and Mana Pools.
The board was tasked with creating a SEZ for the cutting and polishing of diamonds in Mutare.
“Government capitalised the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company to the tune of $80 million and we are expecting equipment to start conglomerate diamond mining,” said Minister Chinamasa.
Dr Gono said the board was enthusiastic on fulfilling the task ahead.
“Since our appointment on the 27th of June, your board has met three times and the level of passion and enthusiasm is something that I have not seen,” he said.
“We spent a lot of time getting to understand the nature of SEZs and scanning the world to come up with best practices both in terms of incentives and institutionally.”
“We want to assure the nation that given the guidelines, we are now clearer on what needs to be done.”
Dr Gono implored parastatals and other regulatory bodies to play their part in ensuring the success of SEZs by cutting on red tape and bureaucracy.