Former Delta boss urges US must lift sanctions on Zimbabwe to propel the country forward


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TESTIMONY TO THE UNITED STATES SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS SUB-COMMITTEE ON AFRICA AND GLOBAL HEALTH POLICY

HEARING ON: ZIMBABWE AFTER THE ELECTIONS

UNITED STATES SENATE, WASHINGTON DC, 6 DECEMBER 2018

Preamble

This opportunity to address the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy to offer the perspectives of the private sector in Zimbabwe on the situation prevailing in Zimbabwe in the post-election period is greatly appreciated. This dialogue is long overdue. On behalf of the private sector in Zimbabwe, I would like to thank Senator Jeff Flake and members of his Committee for this rare opportunity accorded to us.

As this invitation came at short notice some of my colleagues from the private sector in Zimbabwe were unable to travel to Washington to participate in today’s proceedings. In the short time available to me I was able to solicit the contributions of some-not all –business sector leaders in the private sector in Zimbabwe. The outcome of this consultation is, I believe, a balanced assessment of the state of the macro challenges facing Zimbabwe today as outlined in this written submission.

Zimbabwe is a nation that has experienced economic volatility for the greater part of its post-independence history from 1980 to today. I can say, without hesitation, that the people of Zimbabwe are extra-ordinarily resilient. Over the last two decades they have experienced all manner of deprivations such as; political polarization and violence, record beating hyperinflation, infrastructure decay, staggering unemployment levels and economic decline accompanied by deepening poverty. In recent times we have even been visited by medieval diseases such as cholera.

Despite all these challenges the people of Zimbabwe have largely remained peaceful, hardworking, God fearing and honest. Our work ethic as a nation is second to none on the African continent. Our literacy rates remain among the best in Sub-Saharan Africa. Zimbabwe business leaders occupy positions of high responsibility in iconic corporations across Africa and beyond.

I make this submission in my following capacities: –

  1. i) As the former CEO (2002-2012) of one of Zimbabwe’s largest listed companies (see appendix 1 for my resume).
  2. ii) As the current Chairman of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange Listed Companies Forum (ZSE Forum) – representing all the 63 companies listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

iii) As a Leadership Consultant working with more than 30 private sector companies since my retirement as CEO of Delta Beverages in 2012. This consultancy role gives me unparalleled access to Chief Executive Officers, their boards and executive committees. This puts me in a position to have an in-depth appreciation of private sector perspectives across Zimbabwe. (see appendix 2 for the list of some of the companies consulted for and the sectors they fall into).

  1. iv) As Chairman of the boards of several private sector companies in Zimbabwe.
  2. v) As an independent non-executive director on the Board of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. In this capacity i also chair the important Bank Stability Committee which is charged with supervision of the banking sector in Zimbabwe. I am, therefore, fully cognisant of the challenges facing the private banking sector in Zimbabwe.

The ushering in of the new political dispensation following the resignation of President Robert Mugabe in November 2017 has had a seismic impact on the nation of Zimbabwe. The private sector is a significant stakeholder in the process of building a new Zimbabwe in the post Mugabe era.

This submission will address four key issues which Senator Flake has requested me to focus on. These are: –

  1. What is the current state of Zimbabwe’s economy and its impact on Zimbabwean people?
  2. What is the private sector’s evaluation of the impact of the July 30, 2018 elections on Zimbabwe’s economy?
  3. How does the private sector evaluate of the progress made to date on economic and political reforms by the Government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa?
  4. What alternatives does Zimbabwe have should the USA fail to take action to support Zimbabwe’s economy?

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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