ZNCC to discuss key issues at annual congress Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube

Oliver Kazunga-Senior Business Reporter

THE Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) 2024 annual congress will be held in Victoria Falls next week with a host of deliberations expected to take centre stage, among them currency issues and the industrialisation agenda.

Zimbabwe introduced a new currency, the Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG) which is backed by gold, other precious minerals and foreign currency reserves in April this year.

Following the introduction of the new currency, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, at a meeting with retailers in Harare last week, said banks had taken up a cumulative ZiG55 million of the ZiG1, ZiG2 and ZiG5 coins and the ZiG10 and ZiG20 notes.

However, customers were slow to access this small change at their banks.

The ZNCC congress, which draws participants from a cross-section of experts from chamber members and industry in general, aims to explore innovative strategies for sustainable industrialisation and climate-smart business practices.

This year’s congress will be held from Wednesday to Friday next week under the theme, “Unlocking New Frontiers for Sustainable Industrialisation and Climate Smart Business Growth”.

The annual congress is a prestigious gathering of influential leaders, policymakers, and experts from various sectors, providing an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations with industry leaders, policymakers, and professionals from diverse sectors. In an interview, ZNCC chief executive officer Mr Christopher Mugaga said: “Preparations for this year’s annual congress to be held at Elephant Hills in Victoria Falls from the 26th to the 28th of April were at an advanced stage.

“About 250 delegates are expected at the event where deliberations will be largely centred on a host of issues that include currency, Zimbabwe’s industrialisation policy and corruption.”

“We want to unpack the ZiG in terms of cash availability, companies that are looking for forex are getting it because there have been reports that if you have money (foreign currency) in your bank account, you are not allowed to apply for foreign currency —  we want to interrogate such issues as to why,” he said.

Of late, local businesses have faced foreign currency access challenges which has seen the enterprises failing to import critical raw materials and capital equipment to boost their operations. Some of the topics lined up for discussion include “New Perspectives on Informality: A Focus on the Zimbabwean Context,” which will touch on challenges and opportunities associated with informality within various industries.

Other topics will be “Unlocking New Frontiers for Sustainable Industrialisation and Climate Smart Business Growth, and Industrialising Zimbabwe and the region: Anchoring Climate and AI Adaptation and the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube is expected to officiate at the event which will close with the traditional awards ceremony on Thursday evening and on the event, a minimum of 300 delegates are expected.

“We want to also deliberate on Zimbabwe’s industrialisation agenda looking at the country’s industrialisation policy. Do we have a clear industrial policy of where we are going as a nation?

“So, it is in this context that we are inviting local and foreign delegates. Some of them are from the South Africa Chamber of Commerce, Zambia Chamber of Commerce, and the Pan-African Chamber of Commerce.

“We want to see how we can improve or increase trade within our region and also how we can improve output in terms of value-added exports,” said Mr Mugaga.

The ZNCC boss said their members would be briefed on its resolutions made during last year’s congress where it was resolved that the illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe should be lifted as the embargo was retrogressing the country’s economic growth potential.

Zimbabwe was slapped with illegal economic sanctions in 2000 following the successful Land Reform programme the country embarked on to address the imbalances that existed during the colonial era before the attainment of Independence in 1980.

“We will also brief our members on our resolutions on making sure that the illegal economic sanctions imposed on the country are lifted because the sanctions have a negative impact on economic growth.

“We will also deliberate on our resolutions to engage Parliament on various issues that affect business because as ZNCC every term we engage Parliament on these issues.”

“The issue of corruption is also going to take centre stage. 

“Corruption is a vice that is happening both in public and private sectors- and as an organisation, we are saying corruption should be eliminated not only in the public sector but also in the private sector where iniquity is rampant.

“Some of the people that have been fingered in corruption allegations are our members and this embarrasses us as a chamber,” said Mr Mugaga.

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