by Sunday News Online
Prince Sunduzani, Business Reporter
THE newly appointed Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (Zimseza) chief executive officer, Mr Edwin Kondo, should hit the ground running and expedite implementation of the SEZs model to steer industry revival and enhance economic growth, Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister, Angeline Masuku, has said.
Mr Kondo, a strategic marketer and manager, was recently named new chief executive officer by the Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (Zimseza) board to drive operationalisation of the SEZs model across the country. Industry captains have in the past complained that the model is taking long to implement while the board shifted the blame to the absence of a CEO.
In an interview, Minister Masuku said the SEZs model has the potential to unlock investment for ailing Bulawayo companies.
“He (Mr Kondo) has a mammoth task ahead as he should be the driving force behind speedy implementation. Our hopes as Bulawayo are now up and pinned on the SEZs, the reason being that industry and most companies are under judiciary management,” she said.
“Investors are not keen on investing in such companies, but with SEZs, investors will come in and start on a clean slate and it will help our city. Now that there is a CEO, all I can say is that he must hit the ground running, there is a need to balance things and map a way forward.”
Last month President Mnangagwa rallied Bulawayo businesses to rise to the occasion and embrace the SEZs model to turn around the city’s economic fortunes.
The SEZs policy was signed into law in 2016 as part of measures to attract foreign direct investment through enabling free market oriented legislation and flexible fiscal terms in designated areas.
Bulawayo has already identified some areas to be designated under the SEZ approach. Minister Masuku stressed the need for a paradigm shift, from pronouncing policies that are not backed by action to active implementation.
“There is a lot of talk but when looking at the reality, we are not satisfied. Talk should be matched by action and political will must be the driving force. Zimbabweans are looking to the SEZs for job opportunities and this programme should be implemented and see the people of Zimbabwe being the first beneficiaries,” she said.
Association for Business Zimbabwe (ABuz) chief executive Mr Victor Nyoni said the newly appointed CEO should spell out a clear vision for the authority and clarify the approach which the model is going to take.
He advised that the approach should not be open, but narrowed down to areas where the country has a competitive advantage.
“The new CEO must focus on the operationalisation of SEZs. This means he has to lay bare his game plan to all stakeholders. He must spell out the model SEZs seeks to adopt. For example there is still no clarity on which areas have a distinct competitive advantage against the other in Zimbabwe. So far there has been mention of every other sector being recommended for SEZs. At Abuz we don’t believe this is the correct approach,” said Mr Nyoni.
He said businesses would want a clear cut consultation and engagement plan between SEZs and all its stakeholders where they could share ideas they would want to be adopted.