By Farai D Hove| Robert Mugabe’s nephew relation, Gideon Gono’s Special Economic Zones project has been challenged by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s advisor Chris Mutsvangwa.
Since September last year, Gono has been taking away forex allocations dishing them to industry ports of his own choosing. That development led a critical shortage of foreign currency and industry players have since been complaining that Gono is the culprit stalling economic progress.
Gono was last year re-employed into the job which has ministerial powers to control forex reserves, in what many have cried as the return of the man who once presided over Zimbabwe’s worst monetary crisis since independence.
At the time when he introduced his Special Economic Zones job last year, Gono was caught on camera smuggling a bag through the Harare International Airport’s VIP passage area. (SEE VIDEO)
Gono says his method of squeezing forex allocations will create millions of jobs.
But Mutsvangwa has rubbished his method saying the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe must not interfere in the allocation of foreign currency as this gives impressions of a distorted economy.
Mutsvangwa said the solution to the shortage of foreign currency lay in growing exports while the RBZ needed to concentrate on its role as a regulator and not the current situation where it was focused on hard currency allocation and its utilisation as if that was its principal role.
Mutsvangwa was speaking at the Manicaland is Open for Business Conference in Mutare on Friday last week, the state media reports.
He said the role of central bank should be regulation of the financial services sector and creating a conducive monetary environment for the economy to thrive instead of usurping roles and functions of ordinary banks.
“Allocation of foreign currency by the RBZ is a sign of a distorted economy, and this must stop.
“The focus must be on increasing exports, we need to produce quality goods for the global market to earn foreign currency rather than a situation where companies rely on allocations from the central bank,” Mutsvangwa noted.
“The role of the central bank is to regulate the financial services sector and also creating an environment good for business.
“Foreign currency allocation is a signal of a kwashiorkor economy and President Mnangagwa is working on making sure this is corrected,” said Mutsvangwa.
“President Mnangagwa is pushing for policies that support investment and bringing capital in the country.
“Our foreign policy has since changed and it is the new Government’s thrust that we should be friends with everybody and an enemy to none,” Mutsvangwa said.
The Presidential advisor said there was a need for urgent implementation of Special Economic Zones to increase exports and Manicaland was the most strategic area for SEZs. He said the province was the gateway to the sea, through Beira in Mozambique, and it remained one of the most strategic areas for promotion of exports.
Mutsvangwa added that there had been massive interest from investors willing to make significant capital investments in various sectors of the economy. Through re-engagement efforts being undertaken by Government, some western countries which were hostile to Zimbabwe were beginning to warm up to the country.
“There is vibration from all over and they have since recognised that something is happening in Southern Africa and I cannot disclose the specifics at the moment, but we have been receiving positive responses from investors.
“Let’s improve productivity as a country and we have the capacity to do that, let’s produce goods for the global market,” he said.