President Robert Mugabe today said Zimbabwe was open to foreign investment and has not nationalised a single company since independence 34 years ago. He said the country’s indigenisation programme was being misrepresented and misinterpreted. Indigenisation has often been lumped together with compulsory land acquisition and forced takeovers by land-hungry Zimbabweans yet the indigenisation regulations clearly set out the time period in which firms are expected to comply. It also sets out 14 sectors that are reserved for locals. But Mugabe’s statement, following soon after that by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, is a clear indication of a shift in policy. “As originally set out, (indigenisation) is meant to empower and integrate the majority of our people into the mainstream economy. The policy aims at achieving inclusive growth, sustainable development and social equity. There is not exploration on nationalisation of shares held by non-indigenous persons in companies, as some of our detractors would want the world to believe. Rather, any equity that an indigenous person takes up will be disposed of at fair value. With this clarification, let me take this opportunity to invite potential investors to come and do business in Zimbabwe in which there is huge potential for joint venture partnerships between investors, manufacturers, industrialist and the public sector. We want investment from abroad,” Mugabe said.
Chief Justice Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, Senior Minister Cde S. K. Moyo, Minister of Industry and Commerce Cde Mike Bimha, Minister of State for the Metropolitan Province of Bulawayo Mai Eunice Moyo.
All Honourable Ministers present, all Members of Parliament here present. The Mayor of Bulawayo Councillor Martin Moyo and other mayors from the other cities here present.
The chairman of ZITF board Cde Bhekithemba Nkomo and staff of ZITF. Our service chiefs, Your Excellencies members of the diplomatic corps.
Our traditional chiefs here present, captains of industry and commerce, distinguished exhibitors.
May I mention in special acknowledgement and, of course, welcome the delegation from Congo Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo led by Cde Mkoko, minister.
We welcome you and we are happy that you have exhibited at this Zimbabwe International Trade Fair for the first time.
We do hope you will continue to do so in the future. We treasure your relations and friendship with us, you can carry back to President Sassou Nguesso that we really welcome your presence here as exhibitors. We say merci beaucoup.
Distinguished exhibitors, ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends.
On behalf of the people and Government of Zimbabwe and indeed on my behalf as the Patron of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, I say how delighted I am to welcome you all.
Our distinguished exhibitors, visitors and invited guests to the 55th edition of our annual International Trade showcase.
Fifty-five years, as our chairman said, is no grey matter. It’s a long time of succession of demonstration of an organisation to exhibit what the country is able at each time and at each time needs an annual stage to produce and produce industrially.
We all know too that ZITF has also been the occasion for Matabeleland to have its own cattle show, kind of agricultural show because they cannot, when we have the agricultural show in Harare drive all their cattle down that distance to Harare.
So we want to see the cattle. Yes, sifuni ukuzibona izinkomo zonke.
And the development which has taken place. But I am sorry to hear that this show is not going to show us very many because so many were decimated by the drought the previous year.
But we hope with the rains we have had last season there will be recovery. So 2014 ZITF is like just an icing on the cake, it’s coming after some 54 years of exhibitions and after 54 years must, surely show itself, with the experience of those 54 years. And this is what we have seen and what we shall be talking about. Perhaps also what we shall be presenting here in a few minutes.
The ZITF provided an investment promotion exhibition that brings together industrialists, traders and potential investors from Zimbabwe, from Africa and beyond Africa.
The occasion also provides precious and invaluable opportunities and for business networking, exploration and expansion for new trade and investment.
I would like, therefore, to express my profound gratitude to all distinguished exhibitors and visitors domestic and foreign for according great value to the premier international trade event.
I have observed that for each passing year, the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair has been growing and have the ability to organise and also have been improving with time.
My observation is strongly supported by the high quality of local and foreign exhibits which we have just witnessed.
It is also pleasing to note that over time the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair has become a multi-sectoral fair exhibiting various goods and services, includes manufacturing, mining, tourism, education and information and communication technology.
Indeed, this has resulted in the Zimbabwean international trade fair becoming a diversified one- stop show for trade, tourism and investment.
That more than 90 percent of available exhibitions space has been occupied this year strongly indicates the confidence demonstrated by both the local and international business communities in Zimbabwe’s economic recovery.
This is despite the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe which have continued to hurt industry and commerce undermining all efforts we have made to create an enabling environment for business and this, may I say, we do not understand why the United States, of all democratic countries, should choose to single out our country for sanctions.
We don’t understand it and we can only say we are singled out because of the policies we have pursued that benefit our people especially the land reform.
But what choice have we? God gave us Zimbabwe and its natural resources. And who are we to dis-obey the command of the Almighty who placed us in control, ownership and control of the natural resources?
These natural resources, sources of wealth, they shall be yours people of Zimbabwe.
Look after them, they are yours and yours alone. If you give them away, you are disobeying the hand and the act of the Almighty who placed you in control and ownership of them.
And why should the Americans not understand that? We understand them on this world as the most democratic country where democracy derives from certain values.
From the understanding that the people of the country have the right in their togetherness, to own, not just the right to choose leaders but also the right to own their resources and to ask the leaders they choose to work on those resources so they can benefit.
Anyway we shall continue to interact with the United States on this matter. I say this despite the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe continue to hurt industry and commerce. Undermining all efforts we have made to create an enabling environment for business.
Although the illegal sanctions are preventing the participating of more foreign exhibitors, we note with appreciation exhibition this year by 14 countries comprising mostly all our all-weather friends, such as China.
The Zimbabwe International Trade Fair 2014 is indeed a very special event for us coming as it does a few months after the promulgation of the Zim-Asset our economic blue print which is expected to guide and direct Zimbabwe’s sustained economic recovery path for the next five years.
This year’s theme, “New Ideas to New Heights”, is indeed timely and augurs well for the success for our national policies thrust. Zim-Asset focus is on priority of food security and nutrition, social services and poverty eradication, infrastructure utilities and value addition and beneficiation, ndokunobva Zim-Asset.
It is about food security. We must have enough food for ourselves, we must not be importing food for ourselves and perhaps others in our region and abroad.
And not just food to fill our stomach but food that also will give us good health, nutrition, then to help us build ourselves up in the arena of social services, education, health, the welfare of us all.
And that way we become strong not just physically from food and nutrition but strong also intellectually as we get educated and enlightened.
Already we are very high in our literacy rate ranking. And I do hope that the skills, specialist skills that we need in our technological world shall also be acquired by many of our young people as they go to colleges, tertiary institutions and other institutions that might provide them.
Then in the process there has to be not just employment for us but also the ability of us to create that employment, to be employers.
In other words, to establish businesses to be our own employers. To do things for ourselves. Kuzviitira.
So we are no longer poor. And then, of course, we must look around. Our environment has got to be good.
The roads, all our roads have been. I was looking at our roads as I left the airport. It’s as if it was made in 1924 when I was born.
We couldn’t even beautify it? Just put a bit of cement on it, resurface it and put a bit of shouldering to it as others are doing, huh?
Look at us, wearing all these suits. Even an old man like myself. If that road is a newer road than Robert Mugabe who was born in 1924, it must show that it is in fact, modern, being attended to by people with skills.
But they say ahhh, imali kaiko, there is no money. That is what the councillors will say all the time.
But where does the money go? We pay rents, we pay rates, we want to know.
So Local Government must be jerked up so that it can jerk up our councillors so that they can look after our people better. But we in Government also must look after the roads, better roads, dualisation.
And not just resurfacing of roads. Many of our people die on these roads on holidays.
You must expect that every time we have Christmas we have these holidays, many people are going to die on the roads. Is that correct? So we must work on our infrastructure. Infrastructure utilities, Zesa and water. Sewage my my my sinatha, are we drinking clean water?
Aaaaah with all that sewage running into water sources? Uuummm, and the doctors have said our water is not clean in all the cities.
That is why we have put an emergency committee in the Cabinet. We have created an emergency committee to look at water immediately and sewage and try to clean all the cities.
We must do that and have our cities, all of them clean. God has given us good rains and our rivers are full of water, we don’t want that water soiled.
We continue to work on power and we are examining more solar, more hydro and we are trying to increase even more generators, Kariba and also at Hwange as indeed we develop more thermal stations and more small hydros on some rivers.
Those are plans we are having. So the utilities must work for us. We must enable even our industries, if there is no power, we can’t talk about rebuilding the industries of Bulawayo. We need power, we need water. Those must come first.
That’s why we call them en- ablers. Then, of course, but I am glad here we have our ministries of Industry and Sithembiso’s ministry of SMEs, jerked up on the matter of value addition, beneficiation.
If we are producing cotton, we gin it yes. Gin cotton sold like that has little value, but when it is turned into yarn then you have something of added value.
But yarn then is woven into cloth and cloth made into dresses and suits and even the old ones can wear ties and suits. That’s adding value. But we continue to buy these things from outside.
You want good dress you must go to South Africa. Why must we not develop our own industries?
They would be many heavy industries, textiles industries. We had David Whitehead in the past but it has now gone out to sleep, extinction.
But I am glad that industry is aware that we must add value to our minerals, iron ore, let’s make simbi out of it, let’s make also metals or metallic products out of it.
And it’s not just those minerals but even diamonds, cut and polish them and make rings.
Just imagine the rings that are just bought. Gold… The young ladies of our time and young men of our time don’t just want a gold ring but it must have a bit of diamond to it.
And for the women, jewellery. So there you are, and we have these resources in our country.
We developing our industries and develop our country and we export the products, increase also.
That’s what we look forward to. Yes we call for investments. We want investments from abroad, investments in productive sectors.
Domestic investments by ourselves should be the main thrust. Then to complement our efforts, we are for friendly countries to also invest in joint ventures, invest in mining, invest in agriculture, you invest in commerce, invest in building infrastructure, in several other areas and sub sectors.
So Government’s comprehensive strategy is intended to fortify our country’s economic growth and development.
I therefore invite bona fide local and foreign investors to come on board and seize the vast trade and investments opportunities available in various economic sectors.
We expect investors to engage in projects that yield fair returns and our aim is benefiting our country and the owners of investments on a reciprocal basis, our country and its people.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to seize this opportunity to demystify and correct misconception that might be lingering in people’s minds regarding Zimbabwe economic empowerment and indigenisation situation.
As I said last week in my independence anniversary address, the policy has been subject to misinterpretation and misrepresentation.
As original set-up it is meant to empower and integrate the majority of our people into the mainstream economy. The policy aims at achieving inclusive growth, sustainable development and social equity.
There is no propriation on nationalisation of share deal of the indigenisation persons.
Even those countries imposing sanctions on us have not suffered the loss of their own companies through nationalisation.
We have not retaliated by imposing sanctions on them either. No. We have not nationalised a single company ever since our independence, none. But we may seek participation in existing companies that yesterday were just meant to enrich the same.
So let that be quite clear and let our detractors also listen to that and try to correct their past presentations.
Rather, any equity that an indigenous person takes up, will be disposed of at favoured. In fact, there will be no imposition of indigenisation partners.
Those who participate in foreign investments and partners are those who are reciprocally agreed to by the two parties.
So with this clarification let me take this opportunity to invite potential investors to come and do businesses in Zimbabwe in which there is huge potential for joint venture partnerships.
Joint venture partnership between investors, manufacturers, industrialists and the public sector.
Fully committed to regional integration agenda, Zimbabwe is an active member of many regional trading blocs, SADC is one, Comesa is another.
Trade integration is proving to be the cornerstone for the creation of larger markets and increasing trade.
I therefore urge industry and commerce to be more aggressive and take advantage of opportunities that have been brought about by existing bilateral and regional trading agreements. Some of them offer duty free, quota free.
My Government is also committed to the tripartite initiative in Comesa and SADC which aims at harmonising trade integration commitments.
We must agree between and amongst ourselves. For example we have customs, duty free in the SADC that does not obtain in Comesa and it does not occur in East Africa.
In other words, exporting to each other’s countries. If we agree that we remove our tariffs and that means the customs wars must go.
We must agree on the categories of goods that are covered. And we must also agree where countries perhaps and infant industries they can protect themselves.
As long as that is reciprocal, there is nothing wrong about it. But at the moment it appears we are yet to go very … quite some distance before we get to a stage where reciprocity operates on a fair basis.
A country might just want to send its goods to us free of custom duties. But when we send our own goods to them, no, they will want to block it, block our own goods.
In some cases completely, in other cases by using all kinds of tariff tactics.
It is our hope this harmonisation will go a long way in boosting intra-Africa trade through common trade policies, reduction and/or elimination of various trade and that should result in creation of an expanding single market in our region.
In the face of this regional trade and integration agenda and globalisation agenda… (inaudible) I call upon in relevant technology, in order to improve productivity, quality of goods is therefore critical in order to take advantage of export opportunities in the region and beyond.
Government is cognisant of myriad of challenges of industries faced with.
Such challenges include capital for retooling, replacement of machinery and shortage of utility supplies which are key enablers for industrialisation. I have alluded to enablers.
Within our means, Government will work tirelessly to improve situation by especially mobilising long-term funding for industries.
In the spirit public-private partnerships I also call upon industry and commerce to be proactive and to embrace Zim-Asset which encompasses new ideas to new heights. They can lead us to where we want to be.
Ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends. Allow me to congratulate and salute all the outstanding exhibitors both local and foreign who have done well and won awards for their exhibition at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair 2014.
I urge them all to keep on aiming higher and higher and making us proud, more and more proud regional and international.
The exhibitors who have not won any prize this year don’t mourn but have the greatest prize coming from your feeling that you are invaluable participation in this Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.
That was a great reward to you and do us. You are here to see what others are able to do. You were here to see what others are able to do, to see what this country can offer, much more than the utilities you brought.
And you are here also as an ambassador of your country, to make friendship, to enhance friendship and in some cases that friendship can go a long way and create new families.
So you see you have not lost anything.
May I ask you all exhibitors and participants to continue making use of this Zimbabwe International Trade Fair to show case and explore the numerous trade and investments opportunities that are abound in our economy which is destined to grow in leaps and bounce under Zim-Asset.
You can see the spirit of Zimbabweans those of you who have come here for the first time. We don’t need to crumble under sanctions, No. We want to defeat them and to show the world that Zimbabwe will not die under sanctions. And that Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.
With these remarks it is my honour and privilege, Comrade Chairman and Comrade Minister to declare 55th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair officially opened.