The Herald (Harare)

23 June 2014

Zimbabwe: Economy First, Succession Later - Chinamasa

ZIMBABWEANS should not focus on succession-related issues and personalities and direct their energy towards economic revival, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.

Officially launching The Source, an online business news website on Friday last week, Minister Chinamasa said debate around succession was detrimental to economic development.

"There are activities which are happening which never get reported, including events which I officiate, no one is interested in that. Everyone is interested in succession issues and so forth - who is doing what to whom and so on. Now that does not build a country," he said.

"It is very important for all of us, irrespective of political affiliation, irrespective of where you are coming from, to understand that the economy is all ours. It is our economy and it is for us to contribute constructively to its resuscitation, to its growth.

"If it is not resuscitated it means economic gloom for all of us."

Minister Chinamasa said Zimbabwe had huge potential if people concentrated on the right things.

"The potential for this country is enormous. We do not have to be poor in the country if we do the right things, if we assist each other to come up with correct policies that will be conducive to foreign direct investment. The less we talk politics and more economics, the better. I would want to see, as we go into the future, more discussion not on personalities but ideas," he said.

Minister Chinamasa urged Zimbabweans to portray their country in a positive light saying the media have an important role to play in reviving the economy.

"Visitors who come to Zimbabwe have a better perception about our country and ourselves than we ourselves. We speak so negatively about ourselves to the point where it is very dispiriting to say the least," he said

"As Government we welcome any positive contribution in our efforts to revive our economy and the media have an important role to play in that regard. The contribution of the media to Zimbabwe's story both on the political and economic front has not always been constructive

"What you write negatively about our country is amplified outside and where-ever I am going instead of talking and discussing business I am made to explain stupid reports made elsewhere about my country which have no basis.

"Infact, that is what bleeds my heart."

He said the Zim-Asset economic blueprint adopted by Government required contribution from everyone for it to succeed.

"The Government has anchored its economic programmes for the next five years on the Zim-Asset. The Zim-Asset was crafted to achieve sustainable development and social equity anchored on indigenisation, empowerment and employment creation.

"We should be driven by the judicious exploitation of the country's human and natural resources

"For Zim-Asset to succeed Government ministries and agencies, the private sector and the nation at large have to work in tandem not at cross purposes, we should work together.

"We should all realise that we are all Zimbabweans," he said.

Minister Chinamasa defended Government's indigenisation policy, saying the programme was not unique to Zimbabwe and had been adopted in many countries. "Indigenisation is not unique to Zimbabwe, only the word is unique. In other countries they call it localisation and so forth.

"What we are merely saying is that until local population has greater local participation in the economy in terms of ownership, in terms of management, we have no economy.

"How we do it we may argue but there is need for escalating local participation in management and ownership," said Minister Chinamasa.

He reiterated that the Zimbabwean dollar will not reintroduced in the foreseeable future saying the local currency will only return if a number of macroeconomic fundamentals are corrected.

This, he explained, included building reserves for foreign currency and minerals such as gold or diamonds.

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