8 November 2018

Zimbabwe Dithers On Economic Breakthrough Offer

Photo: Frank Buyanga/Facebook
Businessman Frank Buyanga (file photo).

Johannesburg — Zimbabweans outside the country have urged the government to accept an offer from a South African-based company to help resolve shortages of some basic commodities in the economically-struggling country.

African Medallion Group (AMG), owned by Zimbabwean entrepreneur and philanthropist Frank Buyanga, who is based in South Africa, recently made an offer to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to voluntarily finance the procurement of the scarce commodities.

The country is in short supply of fuel and basic commodities such as sugar, cooking oil, flour and foreign currency while those that available are highly priced.

However, government appears dragging its feet, raising accusations it was taking such a stance because the proposal would not directly benefit politicians for years accused of illegally cashing in on economic rescue programmes at the expense of the nation.

"Currently we are told that the RBZ is captured. We are not surprised by such attitudes (if the offer turned down). RBZ remains a captured institution, so long the faction that has captured it does not see any personal benefit, the request might not be granted," Nqabutho Mabhena, Secretary General of the Johannesburg-based Zimbabwe Communist Party told CAJ News Africa.

He said this would be unfortunate as such an offer by AMG would alleviate shortages ahead of the festive season.

"As an immediate solution to scarcity of basic commodities, government must open up so that we fill up our supermarkets and fuel stations. While in the medium term we need to focus on local production, we must act now to address shortages of basic commodities by allowing those who can to import goods," Mabhena added.

In a separate interview with CAJ News, Zimbabwe Diaspora Development Chamber (ZDDC) chairman, Luke Zunga, said such an offer from compatriots was welcome hence the government must consider the offer.

"I see this offer as part of interest to solve the Zimbabwe crisis by the Diaspora. What is important is for Zimbabwe government to give the company (AMG) a chance to explain the offer," said Zunga.

He said the offer to support the government in tackling cash shortage as well as procurement of basic commodities in short supply in the country was a noble idea, yet RBZ was yet to respond.

ZDDC is a subsidiary of Global Zimbabwe Forum with more than 5 million members worldwide.

Shuvai Shoko, a Zimbabwean-based in South Africa, said her country could rue not heeding the AMG offer.

"We hear there is a good Samaritan (AMG) offered to assist the country with cash as well as procurement of basic commodities in supply back home. However, the powers that be might not respond positively yet this is an opportunity to ensure Zimbabwe enjoyed festive season with adequate basic commodities, fuel in short supply included," she said.

In a letter seen by CAJ News Africa, dated 29th October, AMG made the offer to RBZ governor John Mangudya.

Estee Mamman, AGM chairman, said his company was ready to assist with the procurement and delivery of fuel, cement, cooking oil, pharmaceuticals and other scarce commodities.

He said AMG would require statutory approval to exercise this task.

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