The Herald Business, in partnership with the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries is today hosting a Half Day Symposium focusing on the economic outlook for 2016. We know a lot of people will rush to say that it is another talk show.
And yes, we agree that it is another talk show, in fact a lot of these symposiums have been held for the past 35 years.
However, we believe that this outlook conference is coming at a critical time for the economy.
Zimbabwe is going through uncertain times and a lot of businesses and individuals keep asking where the solution lies. It seemed like we had gone through ‘the worst’ (hyperinflation) but the new normal points to another emerging problem (deflation) which promises to also be ‘the worst’.
It is with this in mind that the Herald Business is hosting this conference. We believe that it is an opportunity to correctly diagnose where we are, where we are going and how we will achieve economic development and growth even for future generations.
Today’s symposium presents yet another good platform for interaction of Government, private sector and civil society to share notes around issues besetting the economy and to collectively find solutions to the problems.
Such an approach, we believe, ensures total buy in of all stakeholders as they take ownership of their roles as equal subjects in tackling common problems, which is urgent at this time to resolve our economic challenges.
It is worth noting that this is a follow up to the various business briefings The Herald Business has organised aimed at bringing the Government closer to the business community and investors. The fact that Government and many corporates have signed up to this symposium shows that we are moving in the right direction. Nothing beats unity of purpose.
More importantly no intervention to our socio-economic problems can beat a common alliance between Government and private sector working together. We can make 2016 a success if there is unity of purpose.
But here is the catch; whatever comes out of the symposium should be documented and be supported with an implementation matrix. Naturally, for any intervention to succeed, there should be strict monitoring, control and evaluation of strategies, which must be followed almost religiously given our situation.
This is not the first time that Government and the private sector have come together to share ideas. We are under no illusion to think that everything that will come out of the symposium will be new. Neither are we oblivious to the fact that some of the recommendations from previous forums have still not been taken on board.
But every proud citizen and stakeholder must not lose hope and sight of the destiny considering the immense potential Zimbabwe holds to become a regional power house due to the diversity of our economy.
However, we urge Government to take on board recommendations from well-meaning captains of industry and Zimbabweans in general so that we leave no room for doubts about what could have been had this or that been done.
If Government implements the majority of the recommendations, we are pretty sure, just like the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Dr John Mangudya is, that this can be a transformative year for Zimbabwe despite the magnitude of challenges facing the country and its citizens.
We know that the meeting is happening at a time when we are faced with various challenges ranging from the power shortages owing to the dwindling water levels in the Kariba Dam and a drought due to low and late rains among a myriad of other economic problems that have been around for far too long.
Government revenues have also taken a dip, but we have our bright spots, which we must sweat out to improve our situation.
While agriculture is a critical component of the Zimbabwean economy, without doubt we believe that the diversity of the economy should provide the country with ample room to manoeuvre out of the current situation.
As such, growth can come from other sectors, including but not limited to tourism.
Let us look at the other areas where we have comparative advantage and develop those. Tourism is showing promising signs. The SMEs sector is growing despite challenges of inadequate funding. We should therefore find ways to enhance these bright spots, which Dr Mangudya prefers to call low hanging fruits.
It can be done and it should be done now.