THE Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) says the government should urgently resolve outstanding issues contained in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) so that they focus on economic development.
ZNCC president, Obert Sibanda told delegates attending the chamber’s annual general meeting in Bulawayo last week that the three principals to the GPA, Robert Mugabe of Zanu PF, Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T and Arthur Mutambara of MDC-M should put their house in order for the benefit of the country.
“Government should move with speed to address these outstanding issues as they affect business and indeed the nation negatively,” said Sibanda.
ZNCC is the country’s second largest business organisation after the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries.
The chamber has pledged to join the inclusive government in its efforts to spruce up Zimbabwe’s battered image and bring back critical investor confidence.
Issues that government of national unity has been failing to agree on include, re-introduction of the local currency, tariffs, drafting of the constitution, indigenisation law, tax charges and payment of civil servants salaries.
Â “We advise the parties to finalise the outstanding issues in the GPA and resolve them amicably so that the country can focus on economic development, which is desperately needed,” he said.
This year’s congress was held under the theme “Smart Stakeholder Partnerships for Economic Revival”.
The purpose of the GPA is to ensure that the country’s economy, whose Gross Domestic Product has declined by 60% over the past decade, starts recovering.
The GPA’s major objective is to ensure that the country’s political environment becomes stable paving the way for all major sectors of the economy – mining, agriculture, manufacturing and exports – to start performing.
The other objectives of the GPA are to ensure that the local currency becomes stable, arrest high inflation, create employment, improve education and health standards and to ensure that there is reliable and affordable electricity and clean water supplies.
However, the fragile unity government has been dogged by infighting and backbiting which is slowing the country’s economic revival.
The latest infighting in the new government was the boycotting of a Cabinet meeting by MDC legislators on the pretext that Mugabe had unilaterally shifted the meeting from the mandated day of Tuesday to Monday.
The MDC argues the decision to move the Cabinet meeting day was Mugabe’s plan to deny Tsvangirai recognition as the chair of Cabinet when the president was away.
Mugabe is away in Libya attending an African Union summit of heads of states.
“Government should waive unrealistic taxes and import duties to aid local industries that are failing to reclaim the market share from cheap foreign imports,” Sibanda said.
He said although local companies needed to increase their capacity utilisation, their efforts were being hampered by the unrealistic cost of electricity, rentals, telephones, water and other utilities.
“Our companies need to increase capacity utilisation and we have been trying to do that in the last months but our efforts are being held back by unrealistic taxes and duties, which are not in line with the regional average,” Sibanda said.
Locally produced goods are becoming more expensive, making them uncompetitive on the market because the local industries would be trying to offset high production costs, duty regime and tax charges.