INDUSTRY stakeholders yesterday said while government’s decision to lift the ban on the import of basic goods was a stop-gap measure, there was need for a long-term vision to address deindustrialisation and reviving the agricultural sector, which is seen as the backbone of the economy.
BY TAFADZWA MUTACHA
Government recently repealed sections of Statutory Instrument (SI) 122 of 2017 to increase the flow of basic goods into the market ahead of the festive season and ease pressure on foreign currency demand on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
This followed the disappearance of a raft of basic commodities from supermarket shelves, which ended up on the black market at high prices.
Speaking during an AMH Conversations meeting in Harare, Buy Zimbabwe founder and chief executive Munyaradzi Hwengwere argued that government’s actions were supposed to speak to a long-term economic vision.
“SI122 of 2017 should have been repealed with the long term vision of creating jobs and ensuring that we create wealth in the country. It’s not about filling supermarket shelves. It’s about creating jobs and ensuring that people have money in their pockets,” he said.
Hwengwerere said the country’s major problem was that it had become heavily dependent on imports and had largely become a consumptive economy.
“We cannot continue to import while we are not exporting. The interim is understandable, but where are we going with it?” he queried.
Hwengwere said there was need for sustainable measures in dealing with problems in the economy and ensuring that industry was up and running.
“You cannot rig the value chain, you cannot speak consumption without creation, The short term is supposed to speak to the long term. Whatever steps we take, we must take them in the right direction,” he said.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers’ Association president Denford Mutashu, however, defended government’s action, saying consumers had long suffered the pain of shortages, with prices soaring every day and that the repealing of SI 122 of 2017 was designed to meet consumer demands.
“S1 122 is a very contentious issue. You would want your industrial base to be vibrant and supported, but in the absence of the necessary support that industry requires, which currently is not sufficient in view of the absence of foreign currency,” he said.
“The decision to repeal SI 122 is largely going to benefit consumers more than it does to business. Business has been protected for the past two years. Consumers have suffered serious price increases, shortages and empty shelves, with shops opening late and closing early because they do not have products.”
He said it did not make sense that in some instances, a 2 litre bottle of cooking oil sells at $25.
“Government needs to be sincere about fixing issues that concern consumers. These things they are trying to fix are issues they could have dealt with a long time ago and the consumers have endured a lot,” Interfoods managing director, Star Precious Ndoro, said.