FORMER Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono yesterday returned to the limelight after being appointed chairperson of an 11-member Special Economic Zones (SEZs) board, while there was also a place for army boss, General Constantino Chiwenga’s wife, Marry Mubaiwa on the body.
By Fidelity Mhlanga
This came after President Robert Mugabe assented to the SEZ Act on October 31 last year.
Speaking at the inauguration of the new board, Macro-economic Planning and Investment Promotion minister Obert Mpofu said SEZs were expected to stimulate investment flows from domestic and international markets into strategic sectors of the economy.
“We are all aware that Zimbabwe has continued to experience a dwindling investment space, as foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows continue on a downward trend,” he said.
“It is sad to note the negative statistics, but the country is presented with an opportunity for economic transformation, growth and development through the implementation of SEZs.”
Mpofu said the board will be responsible for supervising the approval of SEZ licence applications and granting of all relevant permits within five days, while working with the Zimbabwe Investment Authority and local authorities among other key stakeholders.
“Sections 57 and 58 of the (SEZ) Act specify that you are supposed to come up with regulations and incentives in consultation with the minister as well as the Finance minister, which will apply and give effect to the SEZs,” he said.
“You are, therefore, responsible for the setting up of a one stop investment centre in each SEZ to ensure the speedy approval of all applications, as well as the speedy clearance of any goods or equipment to be used in the SEZs.”
Zimbabwe’s record in attracting FDI in recent years is abysmal compared to its neighbours and this is attributed to policy inconsistences and the high cost of doing business among a host of other issues.
Since 2014, FDI into the country has been nosediving with statistics showing that last year the country attracted $319 million, $421 million in 2015 and $545 in 2014.
Other members of the board are Sithandile Ngwenya (vice chairperson), Godfrey Chanakira, Ozias Hove, Erasmus Gapara, Constance Zhanje, Edwin Zvandasara, Christopher Dube, Marry Mubaiwa, Busisa Moyo and Thando Madzvamuse.
In his acceptance speech, Gono said the board will adhere to the Act that required the advancement of an export generating strategy and support import substitution initiatives, so as to reduce the import bill without compromising quality, price and timely availability of products or services.
“We want to assure all Zimbabweans that this board will brook no misdirection from any quarter seeking to advance any form of ‘ism’, political, ethnic, regional or otherwise, which is not provided for by the Act and does not advance the purposes for which you (Mpofu), with the approval of His Excellency, the President, have appointed us.”