Zim industry heads for grinding halt in one month’s time

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By Alois Vinga

ZIMBABWE is on fast grind to a halt after manufacturers have said they were now left with a month’s supply of raw material to produce goods for the nation.

Briefing the media on the sidelines of a meeting hosted by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) Thursday, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Sifelani Jabangwe said the situation was now very dire and called for urgent decisions by authorities.

“The confederation’s recent analysis revealed that most manufacturers across the country’s economic sectors are only left with raw materials that will not go beyond the next ten days,” Jabangwe said.

“As a result, we do not have more than 10 days to find a lasting solution; otherwise most companies will close down.”

Jabangwe said the situation has been caused by the central bank’s failure to avail scarce foreign currency to the critical sectors of the economy.

He also said the situation could best be rectified if government faced reality and decided on how to fairly exchange the money held in manufacturers’ bank accounts for the US dollar.

“Companies have huge balances in their bank accounts but the government says that it is illegal to convert them at black market rates and at the same time, the central bank is not giving us foreign currency.

“Such a trend makes it easier for informally operating businesses to keep afloat at the expense of our members,” he said.

Jabangwe said government was preoccupied with attempts to steady galloping prices of goods and services while turning a blind eye on the viability of businesses and product availability to be produced by hard pressed industrialists.

He said Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube was found wanting in implementing some reforms he crafted and presented through his Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP).

“TSP document on page 35 talks about creating a free environment for businesses to thrive and what we are calling on government to do is simply to implement policies that are in existence,” he said.

The CZI boss called on government to decriminalise the exchange of forex and make concrete decisions urgently before industry closes down.

The Zanu PF led administration is at a loss on how to remedy an economic upheaval last witnessed over 10 years ago.

This volatile situation has triggered a labour unrest with public hospital doctors recently going on a 40-day strike while teachers have also threatened to report for work once a week.

Government has resisted demands to switch to the use of the US dollar in an economy that has virtually dollarised.