Felex Share Senior Reporter—
President Mugabe yesterday held a historic interface with the private sector to exchange views on economic turnaround and map the way forward. The meeting — held at State House in Harare — was initiated by captains of industry and is in line with Zim-Asset and the 10-Point Plan for Economic Growth, which stress the need for close collaboration between Government and the private sector.A similar meeting was last held in 2007. Yesterday’s indaba was attended by representatives of business associations like the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ), Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ), Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU), Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) and Zimbabwe Council for Tourism.
Cabinet ministers and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Dr John Mangudya were also present as the two parties sought to exchange views for economic growth. In his remarks, the President said cooperation between Government and the private sector had brought success stories in the economy.
“Such cooperation is largely responsible for the phenomenal success of the Command Agriculture Production Programme, which in a single season, has enabled Zimbabwe to regain its food security,” he said.
“The private sector is thus enjoined to support the expanded version of the Command Agriculture programme by, inter alia, ensuring the timeous supply of critical inputs such as seed, fertilisers and chemicals at affordable prices.”
President Mugabe said to bridge the existing infrastructure gap, Government would continue prioritising the implementation of infrastructure development projects covering transport, energy, water and housing.
In the transport sector, he said, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo “was not sleeping and always updating him” on progress made on various projects.
“Work is under way to ensure the recently launched Beitbridge-Masvingo-Harare-Chirundu dualisation programme, is completed within the shortest possible time frame,” said President Mugabe.
“At the same time, plans for the expansion of the Harare-Nyamapanda and the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls roads are also under active consideration. Government is also rehabilitating urban and rural infrastructure damaged by the recent floods.
“The commissioning of the Victoria Falls, Joshua Mqabuko International airports had already triggered an upsurge in inbound tourist arrivals. Focus is now on expansion of Harare International Airport.”
In the energy sector, President Mugabe said: “Work is under way to complete the Kariba South project and commence construction of Hwange 7 and 8 projects.
“Domestic power generation will also be augmented through the incorporation of independent power producers, focusing on hydro and solar energy. Such programmes should eventually result in the reduction of local power generation deficit and cost of power.”
President Mugabe said the private sector was expected to play a part in the utilisation of the recently commissioned Tokwe Mukosi Dam. He said there were irrigation, power generation, tourism and fisheries opportunities at the country’s largest inland water body.
“To bolster value addition and beneficiation, private sector players in the mining sector are encouraged to invest in refineries and smelting plants and other appropriate machinery and equipment,” said President Mugabe.
“The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has laid the foundation in this respect by coming up with a string of financing facilities for small scale miners.” Special Economic Zones, President Mugabe said, should provide impetus to domestic and foreign direct investment. He said after clearing its debts with the International Monetary Fund, Government was working on settling dues with other multilateral creditors. Representing the private sector, Mr Charles Msipa, said they enjoyed access to and dialogue with policy makers.
“We have always had an input in policy formulation and through this meeting we are supplementing an existing process,” he said Mr Msipa bemoaned the high cost of doing business in Zimbabwe, at the same time calling for policy coherence and consistency from Government.
“There is need for Government to prioritise investment, harmonise investment laws, as well as create a one-stop shop,” he said. Mr Msipa said such high-level engagements should be held at least twice a year.