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The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF), hosted an Economic Policy Dialogue Forum on 11 October 2023 at Cresta Lodge in Msasa. Halfway through the implementation of the National Development Strategy I (NDS1), the Chamber, its Executive Council, and its broad membership do recognize the efforts by the Government of Zimbabwe in spearheading economic progress towards the attainment of an upper-middle-income society by 2030. Accordingly, the private sector is taking part in the implementation of the NDS1 objectives and will continue to work with the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure the attainment of the NDS1 targets.

The Breakfast Meeting was attended by 150 delegates from the Government, the international community, the private sector, civil society, trade unions, the media, and academia. The Economic Dialogue Breakfast Meeting sought to bring together all key stakeholders under one roof to deliberate on the next course of action after the conclusion of the 2023 General Elections. The specific objectives are to: provide a platform for the private sector and development partners to present their expectations to the newly appointed leaders in Government; present the policymakers with an opportunity to outline their economic plan and embrace the views of key stakeholders such as employers, labour, and development partners; and facilitate stakeholder interface and dialogue.

The Director of Ceremonies, Rev. Herbert Mazonde, was excited to be part of the occasion where issues pertaining to industry and commerce were being discussed. He recognized the presence of esteemed dignitaries that included the following, among others:

·         The UN Zimbabwe Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator – H. E. Ambassador Edward Kallon;

·         The Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs – Hon. Norbet Mazunguye


  • Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Power Development – Eng. Dr. Gloria Magombo;
  • The Ambassador of the Republic of Japan to Zimbabwe – H. E. Mr Satoshi Tanaka;
  • The Ambassador of Republic of Namibia to Zimbabwe – H. E. Mr Nicklaas R. Kandji; and
  • The Ambassador of the Republic of Ghana to Zimbabwe – H. E. Mr. Alexander Ntrakwa.

The ZNCC CEO, Mr Christopher T. Mugaga, informed the attendees of the purpose of the meeting. He highlighted that the Breakfast Meeting was a platform to deliberate on macroeconomic policies and shape the direction going forward. He put forward that the main questions that were on most people’s minds had to do with the Mutapa Fund and the recently introduced gold-backed digital token, the ZiG. He emphasized that the best way a nation can solve its challenges is to have an honest conversation among the key stakeholders in the economic, social and political divide.

Opening Remarks

Overview of the State of the Economy

In his opening, Mr Karoro highlighted that the Forum created a unique platform to have a unison position on the steps forward. While giving a brief overview of the state of industry and commerce, he underscored the need to join efforts in spearheading the implementation of the National Development Strategy I (NDS1) (2021-2025). Although the country is performing well on various metrics and certain NDS1 targets, Mr Karoro mentioned that a lot still needs to be done to deepen macroeconomic stability, enforce the rule of law, and respect for the market forces.

ZNCC Mashonaland Region Vice President – Mr Tapiwa Karoro

The period between 2018 and 2023 saw mixed fortunes being recorded on the economic front. The economy which was characterized by high instability grew by an average of 1.18% between 2018 and 2022 while the blended year-on-year inflation rate averaged 78% between January 2021 and July 2023. The blended month-on-month inflation averaged 6% between January 2021 and July 2023. Stability in the prices and rate of exchange has been a difficult task to achieve for the monetary authorities and this has resulted in the heightened use of the US dollar across the economic divide. However, in recent months, there has been a considerable political will to promote the use of the Zimbabwean dollar with some taxes and duties as well as fees and levies being paid for in local currency. Positive foreign exchange market reforms have been also implemented. The continuous and unparalleled injection of new liquidity in the economy was curtailed as the Treasury acquired the role of liquidating the 25% export surrender requirements from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

The recent resolution of the US debt ceiling standoff and, earlier this year, strong action by authorities to contain turbulence in US and Swiss banking, reduced the immediate risks of financial sector turmoil. For Zimbabwe, according to the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion, the Total Public and Publicly Guaranteed Debt as a percent of GDP stood at 99.6 percent as of 31 December 2022. The total debt to GDP ratio of 99.6% exceeds the 70% threshold provided for in the Public Debt Management Act (Chapter 22:21) implying that the country is in debt distress. The Chamber continues to propose that no debt should ever be procured without the involvement of the Parliament of Zimbabwe in the interest of transparency, accountability, and confidence building. This also applies to the assumption of debts by the RBZ.

Private Sector & Development Partners Expectations & Lessons from the Past

The Ambassador submitted that it was crucial to engage on a regular basis across various platforms and to continuously take key stock of the developments taking place in the country and beyond. The Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) entails a universal call to end poverty and advance prosperity for all. Accordingly, the private sector plays a crucial role in driving the implementation of the SDGs and other strategic plans like the NDS1. He harnessed to say that the Government does not create jobs and its mandate is that of creating an enabling environment for the private sector to create decent employment. In this regard, for the country to witness sustainable, inclusive and equitable

UN Zimbabwe Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator – H. E. Ambassador Edward Kallon

growth, a thriving private sector is a prerequisite.

According the H. E. Ambassador E. Kallon, the NDS1 is indeed aligned with SDGs which denote the basic aspirations of achieving sustainable, equitable, and inclusive growth. The Global SDGs Summit yielded the six key transitions that can have catalytic and multiplier effects across the SDGs. These include food systems, energy access and affordability, digital connectivity, education, jobs and social protection, and climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. Businesses have a lot to do in value addition, ensuring energy access and availability as well as digital connectivity. Access to quality education for all is essential for a just transition, and enhanced climate change adaptation and mitigation. With regards to integrated policies and financing mechanisms, the UN Zimbabwe and its Agencies such as UNDP can assist in this endeavour. The private sector is the engine room and can essentially foster collaboration. The role of the private sector pertains to influencing policy through evidence-based lobbying and advocacy. In the same vein, the fact of business is to make a profit. However, businesses have to make a profit while doing good: good corporate citizenship (good corporate governance, compliance with the law, corporate social responsibility, and environmental protection).

Mr Dimitri, from the Russian Embassy, was squeezed by the Moderator, Rev. Herbert Mazonde, on the matter pertaining to Zimbabwe’s quest to join the proposed BRICS currency participating countries. His response was that the two countries are working hand-in-glove to boost economic ties and the recently held Russia-Africa Summit has been crucial in advancing both the political and economic relations. The benefits accrue even when trading in national currencies

He put forward that the critical issues for discussion include devising ways on how the private sector can effectively and efficiently engage policymakers and proactively participate in shaping policy and the regulatory environment, promoting sustainable business practices, and investing in sustainable business projects. In conclusion, he buttressed that sound policymaking should prioritize macroeconomic stability. Accordingly, the UN and its Agencies will continue to support the development of Zimbabwe.

He reported that significant steps have already been taken as Russia gifted Zimbabwe with Ambulances (Helicopters) and the Russian Federation intends to uphold and implement unilateral measures to implement SDGs. In the mining sector, for example, Russia has developed interests in this area and currently, there are new exploration activities underway by Russian firms in Zimbabwe. Also, the Embassy has been working with UNDP Zimbabwe in the rehabilitation of Zimbabwe’s agricultural landscape to the tune of US$1 million. Other activities of great significance, as he reported, include the premium education cooperation where about 1,000 Zimbabwean students are currently studying in various Russian universities. Accordingly, he indicated

Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) as represented by Mr Mischeck Ugaro, reported that the issue of bank charges was an area that was discussed during the 2023 Zimbabwe Economic Development Conference (ZEDCON) which was held in the first week of October 2023. Accordingly, he highlighted that banks have actually disintermediated as a result of high bank and transactional charges, which consist of a part in government taxes and levies. It is, therefore, imperative to pursue non-traditional financing mechanisms due to the

that Russian companies are open to doing business with their Zimbabwean counterparts.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ) President, Mrs. Manyara Chigunduru, put forward that after discussing on the critical national issues like economic growth and currency, the conversation finds its way back to the accounting numbers. It is fundamental to understand how economic policies implicate the accounting statements. Of late, the prevalence of policy reversals and contradictions has been quite challenging for finance and accounting managers. With the current position on currency, businesses cannot plan beyond 2025 and banks are only lending short term.

debt overhang. The Mutapa Fund is a good initiative and the key issue is on availability of enough information. The public needs to be educated and also be provided with a clear policy and regulatory environment that speaks to the performance of such a Fund. With regards to the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF), the Kadoma declaration is an agreement between business, government, and labour in which case it is about time for the President to push for that to be implemented fully and as agreed then. While referring to the presentation by Mr Tapiwa D. Karoro, he submitted that we no longer have an informal sector in Zimbabwe as it is now the new economy. The Government was urged to come up with policies that encourage cooperation and integration from both the formal and informal sectors.

There is a need for a tax regime that propels businesses to grow and by the look of things, the emerging sector is running away from the regulated environment. She also reported that there is a need for professionalism in order for all developmental partners like the United Nations Zimbabwe to work with the private sector. Professionalism starts with proper documentation and true reporting. For the Mutapa Fund, clear governance structures must be put in place. She urged businesses to take into consideration issues to do with inclusivity and sustainability. Reporting on environmental, sustainability, and governance metrics (ESG) is a starting point.

The Immediate ZNCC Past President, Dr. Tinashe Manzungu, reflected on the previous three months and the run-up to the 2023 general elections where there was a lot of political talk and so much energy being presented in promises to lift the economy out of the doldrums by the aspirants. Fast forward to October 2023, a Cabinet is now in place and it should be down to work. A need for a direction is one

She called upon the Government to undertake wide consultations before any policy changes given the proliferation of statutory instruments (Sis) over the years.

of the reasons why the Chamber, in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) convened such a Meeting. The need for progressive and liberal policies cannot be overemphasized. He then stressed the need for the Government and the private sector, among other key partners, to work together to produce the desired results. The private sector is willing and very much involved in building Zimbabwe and needs policymakers to listen to advice.

Question & Answer Session

The power outage was labelled as a question of the past during the election campaign in almost all the rallies but the episode of blackouts is back again after the conclusion of the elections. What could be the challenge or the situation with the power supply in the country? How do we differentiate between the informal sector and a Micro-enterprise or an SME? For the past two weeks, there have been more than 16 km long queues when exporting out of Zimbabwe. It is taking a minimum of 8 days in a queue at the border. Also, the license regime is an obstacle especially when importing maize into Zimbabwe. One requires 6 permits to import maize into the country through the Zimbabwe Single Window System.

Mrs. Florence Taruvinga, the President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), was concerned with the continued exclusion of labour in such crucial talks about the direction of the economy. When there is exclusion of critical stakeholders, there is no consultation at all, and the resulting effect is a lack of buy-in and implementation of the policies. In many local government jurisdictions, the lack of respect for some constituencies when discussing issues in which they have special interests (special interest groups/individuals) has led the nation to its knees. Such groups don’t even consider the impact on other groups in society, they are only concerned with the benefits that accrue to them from certain policy announcements.  There is a need for mutual understanding and consideration of national issues.

Responses by Policymakers

The Deputy Minister was excited to be part of the occasion, especially after the recently held Zimbabwe Economic Development Conference (ZEDCON) where the economic agenda for the next 5 years was set out by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Dr. Emerson D. Mnangagwa. Thus, he underlined that each one of us has a part to play and everyone has to contribute one way or the other. The First Opening Session of the 10th Parliament was presided over by the President on 03 October 2023. The focus is on supporting the economic agenda for the next five

Remarks – Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs: Hon. Norbet Mazunguye

years, and in this regard, the agenda for the Parliament of Zimbabwe for this term was also set out in this respect. Indeed, he reported that the Second Republic’s ethos is grounded in constitutionalism and respect for the rule of law and human rights. Various Bills such as the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, the Public Finance Management Amendment Bill, the Medical Services Amendment Bill, and the Insurance Bill, among others, were reported to be on the table for Parly to deal with. He also reported that the Ministry of Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs is seized with the agenda of entrenching the rule of law as denoted by the efforts to establish clearly defined property rights and enforcement of contracts.


The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Eng. Dr. Gloria Magombo (left) reported that Zimbabwe has achieved a state of equilibrium in energy supply and the current challenge pertains to the availability of some of the units at a point in time due to maintenance and other issues. For the past few months, about 1,000 MW is now available on a daily basis and load-shedding is implemented only when there are anomalies in the production and distribution system. As per the Metrological Services Department, an El Nino is expected and about 250 MW are being fed into the national grid from the Kariba hydro at the moment while about 50 to 60 MW is coming from solar systems. Apparently, opportunities in the energy sector do exist for all. The energy tariffs have been overly subsidized over the years and industry has been enjoying low tariffs. She stressed that now is the time for cost-reflective tariffs and in this area of tariffs, there is always a contradiction between supplier and consumer. The suppliers (even private suppliers and Independent Power Producers) want cost-reflective tariffs whereas the consumers (households and industry) want low tariffs.

The Deputy Director; International Economics, Economic Research and Policy – Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe - Dr William Kavila (middle) highlighted that there is nothing magical about the Digital Tokens, the ZiG. From the current realities, he put forward that Zimbabweans like the US dollar so much for value preservation and transactional purposes. Accordingly, he indicated that the ZiG is not a currency but an investment asset that is fully backed by gold. Rev. Herbert Mazonde intervened to say that once bitten twice shy and urged the Bank to take the individuals’ concerns from such a perspective otherwise the ZiG would not work just like the Bond Notes and Coins. Dr Kavila highlighted that an independent verification process for the vault gold at the Bank has been put in place and will be adhered to.

This was supported by Prof. Ashok Chakravarti (right), Senior Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion. He emphasized the need to work together, just like the previous speakers, and urged the ZNCC Executives to have a direct dialogue with the Senior Government Officials by making concrete submissions on issues pertaining to industry and commerce. Accordingly, the currency is the biggest elephant in the room. He put forward that the economy is currently performing well, and there is a need to do better. Zimbabwe has some of the highest growth rates in Africa and he urged delegates not to have a short memory by to look back in history, for example, a holistic overview of the past 10 years.

The ZNCC Mashonaland Region First Vice Chairperson, Mr Amiel Matindike, gave the closing remarks. He expressed gratitude to the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom for making the event possible and the organization’s unwavering support towards the Chamber’s cause. He also thanked the esteemed speakers and delegates who actively participated during the entire meeting.

Closing Remarks