Business has been the major casualty to the highly polarised political environment that has characterised Zimbabwe over the past decade, Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube has said.
Officially opening the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) congress in the country’s premier resort town on Wednesday, Ncube said it was disturbing that the fortunes of business in Zimbabwe had for a very long time been linked to the country’s politics.
The congress is being held under the theme “From stabilisation to growth: The imperative for Zimbabwe’s industry.”
“It is not because politicians determine business policies or regularise them, but because in Zimbabwe for over 10 years we have had a highly polarised political environment. We need to free ourselves from being held hostage by these destructive politics that we follow,” he said.
Ncube said Zimbabweans should be free to choose their destiny through elections — which would not be held this year — or else they will be stuck in destructive politics.
He said as long as Zimbabwe’s politics was highly polarised it would take a “very long time” for industry to move from a capacity utilisation of about 44% to 100%.
“We do not have the framework for multi-party democracy. Self evidently in these political contests, lives have been lost, some people became homeless, but the biggest casualty had been business its. Before the economy was dollarised business was on its knees if not its belly,” he said.
He said the challenge was to get out of the destructive politics through free and fair elections.
“I believe democracy means being free to make mistakes, even when you cast your vote. But the good thing is, unlike marriage which says till death do us part, a set-up like power sharing has a life span of up to five years. After that, past mistakes can be rectified and not repeated,” he said.
Presenting the Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Budget review statement on Tuesday Finance minister Tendai Biti said Zimbabwe’s economy was on course to grow by 9,3% in 2011 despite the political environment not being stable.
He said this was due to a recovery in mining and agriculture, but wage increases for State workers would be a drag on the public purse.
Zimbabwe’s economy grew by 8,1% last year, after a sharp contraction for the past decade. Biti said political problems in Zimbabwe would stop the country from registering the double-digit growth needed for a full recovery.
“We are still on course to achieve our gross domestic product growth rate of 9,3%. Agriculture and mining, with 19,3% and 44% growth respectively, are at the epicentre of this growth,” Biti said.
He said Zimbabwe would achieve a year-end inflation rate of 4%, lower than the initial forecast of 4,5%.