By Shingirai Vambe
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) President, Tinashe Manzungu has expressed pleasure on his organisation’s just ended annual congress held in the resort city of Victoria Falls.
Manzungu said though Covid disrupted substantial businesses across the globe, others grew in leaps and bounds, for example the ICT sector.
“Indeed, we commend the business community for their resilience and we say, keep it up. Such resilience has seen the economy being poised to register a 7.8% growth rate on the back of a bumper grains harvest, favourable international commodity prices and rising capacity utilization in the manufacturing sector” Manzungu said.
The ZNCC theme for the 2021 conference was “managing the disruptive change”. Unfortunately, exchange rate developments due to the runaway parallel market exchange rate fuelled by money supply growth and auction market inefficiencies continue to destabilise the gains that have been registered to date.
The volatile exchange rates have resultantly put pressure on prices of fuel, goods and services which are in most cases transacted in US dollars, while those who cannot access foreign currency find the same goods and services very expensive in the local RTGS currency which is racing at 1:200 on the parallel market.
ZNCC Deputy President Mike Kamungeremu vehemently outlined the discriminatory and selective business practice between government and the private sector at the Foreign Exchange Auction system in relation to the parallel market rates.
Guest Speakers, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Dr. John Mangudya, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission Chairperson, Loice Matanda Moyo and Speaker of Parliament Jacob Francis Mudenda spoke highly on the positive engagement by ZNCC interactive programs with the private sector.
Moyo told this publication that it was her “first time to attend such a successful and impressive meeting of the ZNCC especially with the private sector raising pertinent issues on doing business in Zimbabwe.”
“There are companies and individuals paying for electricity in foreign currency for guaranteed supply of power as it remains the cheapest form of energy for industry.
As business leaders there are certain situations which force us to go out of our way to look for foreign currency outside the auction system, else we suffer”, Kamungeremu said.
However, the Speaker of Parliament, Advocate Jacob Francis Mudenda in his opening remarks challenged private sector, industry and commerce to propose solutions and go beyond just recognizing the problem.
“You have to interface with Parliament because that is where the law is made. Walk together with your legislators taking cognizant of section 141 of the Constitution which provides for the House of Assembly to facilitate public involvement in its legislative and other process including portfolio committees”, Mudenda said.
Mudenda remarked that ZNCC resolutions did not consider section 141 where you have to interface with Parliament to see how managing disruptive change can be controlled or directed in a manner that is productive to the economy.
“Who has approached Parliament amongst you to petition for alignment of the respective laws, criticizing a bill or anything in line with section 141 from the private sector?” asked Mudenda.
The Speaker of Parliament further highlighted that the low participation by business players in the law-making process is to blame for the disruption and those affected should not cry about poor legislation when they did not participate.
Economist, Pascal Mandeya said as a nation we should be our first customers before we even think of exporting if we ever want to promote the local currency and doing away with a multicurrency economy.
“What is happening on the ground is different from what is in the books. It doesn’t exist, let’s forget about these things as given by the minister of finance,” Mandeya said.
“The reason why we have a government in the first place is because we acknowledge that market systems don’t work. This is why no one can explain the rise of the People’s Republic of China” Mandeya added.
RBZ Deputy Governor, Dr. Kupukile Mlambo dwelled on the foreign currency situation in the country, stating that the backlog situation will be addressed starting from the 4th of November, 2021.
“As the RBZ, we basically have two clients, which are, government and commercial banks, respectively. The current backlog is between us and the banks but we are then also having to deal with shelf companies which in many cases are flouting the exchange control rules,” Mlambo said.
ZNCC Chief executive officer, Chris Mugaga spoke on the introduction and setting up of the Women’s Desk which is lobbying for women participating in the economy as entrepreneurs and their ability to access funds from the Zimbabwe Women’s Bank.