New Zimbabwe (London)

8 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Visit When We Close Too, CEO Tells Minister

NESTLE Zimbabwe country manager, Kumbirai Katsande says ministers should not only be invited when companies open but also when they officially closing so that they have a much better appreciation of how industry was collapsing.

Katsande said this at the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) annual congress which was held under the theme "Taking Zimbabwe Industry to the next level" last week in Mutare.

"We should invite ministers when companies officially close not only when they open or to official an event where there will be celebrations, this will make them realize the level at which industry was collapsing and needed revival. We need more action and less talking," he said.

Industrialists present at the congress said if adopted invitations to the ministers could be at a ratio of 1 to 10 in favour of company closures.

Since 2008 an estimated 2 100 companies have closed shop with over 50 000 losing their jobs.

Katsande a former CZI president also asked industry minister Mike Bimha whether President Robert Mugabe was fully aware of the state of industry.

Bimha responded by saying president Mugabe was fully aware of the state of the economy and was "very" supportive of measures adopted to revive industries.

"He (Mugabe) is fully aware of the state of industry. Each time I meet him, he asks about industry and possible solutions. I will soon present to him a report on the state of the industry which he requested." Bimha said.

Economists, industrialists and labour experts have warned against a troubled second half in the country as many companies are slipping into liquidation or judicial management, throwing thousands of workers out of the job market.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who initially projected an optimistic 6,1 percent growth rate this year before revising it down to 3 percent, has also admitted that the economy was struggling with huge problems including a fragile treasury, erratic power supplies and absence of lines of credit.

According to the Master of the High Court's roll, scores of companies are each month applying for judicial management, liquidation and voluntary closure as provided for by the Companies Act.

The act provides that a company may be placed under judicial management if it is unable to clear its debts or when it is likely to collapse.

Katsande said CZI's should maintain a hard-line stance in lobbying for policies that will address the cocktail of problems affecting industry.

These challenges range from escalating utility charges, a liquidity squeeze, an inflexible labour market, high cost of labour and uncompetitive tax structures.

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