19 June 2014

Zimbabwe: ZNCC to Hold Congress

THE Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) will next week hold its annual congress to map ways of containing an economic crisis characterised by widespread company closures and job cuts. This year's congress, scheduled to run between June 25 and 27 in Victoria Falls, will be held under the theme: "Translating economic blueprints into growth."

ZNCC president, Hlanganiso Matangaidze, said focus would be on the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset), a government blue print created to turn around the economy, and the role of the private sector in achieving its objectives. "The country has produced many economic blue-prints but the impact has been negligible so as the private sector, we are meeting to try and come up with resolutions that give a way forward in achieving this objective," said Matangaidze.

Several speakers including banker, Nigel Chanakira, KM Financial Services' chief executive officer, Kenias Mafukidze, lawyer, Canaan Dube, World Bank's Kobina Daniel and Joseph Mverechena from Agribank have been lined up to present papers at the congress. Chanakira will give a synopsis of the country's risk factors while Daniel will present on doing business in Zimbabwe.

Dube will tackle corporate governance in Zimbabwe's public and private sectors while Mafukidze and Mverechena will present papers on financing options for business in difficult times and structural economic enablers respectively. The congress is coming at a time when industry is faced with liquidity challenges, antiquated equipment and power and water shortages that pose viability challenges.

Capacity utilisation for the manufacturing sector was on an upward trend since 2009, from 10 percent in to 57,2 percent in 2011, but has now taken a downward trajectory to 44,2 percent in 2012. It is expected to have worsened. Several companies have closed shop or are struggling to survive due to lack of working capital or the poor performance of the economy.

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange has de-listed several manufacturing firms over the last few years. These includ Apex Corporation Limited, Gulliver Consolidated Limited, Steelnet Limited and Cairns Holdings which went into liquidation after facing working capital problems.

Across all sectors, several other manufacturing firms are in a precarious state and many of them especially in Bulawayo and Mutare are tottering on the brink of collapse. With the trading environment having further deteriorated, nearly all companies are struggling to stay afloat due to depressed demand and the inability by cash-strapped customers to pay for goods and services on time.

The congress is also coming at a time when the country has to deal with investor confidence which is another key economic enabler and if left unattended may render futile all the country's efforts towards turning around the economy.

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