Thursday, April 10, 2008
From Victoria Ruzvidzo in BULAWAYO
ZIMBABWEANS should cultivate a culture of hope, unity of purpose and optimism to overcome current economic challenges, Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono has said. Adopting such a stance, the RBZ chief said, was the only way to ensure successful economic turnaround. "Zimbabwe, ladies and gentlemen, will come right in the not too distant future and it will not be long before we witness the turnaround efforts of us all who have chosen to remain behind when everyone else has been packing their bags for seemingly greener pastures," said Dr Gono at a function here last night to mark the re-emergence of clothing firm Security Mills Private Limited from judicial management.
The Bulawayo firm, in operation for the past 69 years, was placed under judicial management for 14 years and is now operating viably. Dr Gono said its turnaround, from withdrawal of financial support, societal isolation and lack of preferential market access among other challenges, was similar to the way Zimbabwe would also shrug off present challenges to emerge an economic powerhouse once more.
"Is this not the same situation we economically find ourselves in as a country?
"Yes, it is: for eight years we have, as a country, not received balance of payments support, have suffered from trading on a cash basis due to lack of lines of credit, diminished export performance and limited access to some markets and have suffered from brain drain, negative image and at times some amongst us have been despondent about our situation and can never imagine that a turnaround is possible," said Dr Gono.
But through total commitment and hard work, Zimbabwe would emerge victorious from these challenges, illegal sanctions and unfair global trading systems. Business advisor and economist Dr Erich Bloch and Security Mills chairman Mr Ronny Zlattner also registered their vote of confidence in the economy.
"There should be conviction that recovery will come. That is undoubted," said Dr Bloch. Despite the obtaining challenges, Dr Gono said the central bank remained committed to getting the economy right.
"It will not be long before we showcase our economy, its opportunities and performance to the current doubting Thomas or the unbelieving world, a once hostile international audience and to a currently sceptical market," he said.
It is in this regard that Dr Gono condemned the re-emergence of disturbances on farms between resettled farmers and former farm owners.
"Such friction, if indeed it is re-emerging, does not augur well for a country that has been hailed as exemplary in terms of peace and stability in the just-ended harmonised elections.
"We call upon and urge all concerned to respect the law of the land and to settle any misunderstandings and disputes peacefully in the interest of both the image of the country and preservation of life and property whose destruction can militate against our economic turnaround."
It was also important that Zimbabwe revisited the social contract concept to foster mutual understanding between Government, business, labour and civil society "bearing in mind that there can only be one Zimbabwe to which we all belong and to which no one stakeholder can claim unitary or singular ownership".
For its success and commitment to turnaround efforts, Security Mills has been exempted for a year, from foreign currency export earnings surrender requirements by the central bank to encourage it to build a robust export base and other growth strategies.
Plans were also in place to support exporters through an aggressive incentives regime to be unveiled soon while such sectors as manufacturing, mining, tourism and agriculture were in line for a major boost.
Furthermore, efforts were being directed towards the removal of price distortions that were driving parallel markets of foreign currency and other products as the economy gravitated towards a market-based economy "with as few controls as possible".