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Zimbabwe business leaders tell Mugabe the country is in need of comprehensive reforms

Zimbabwe’s business leaders have told President Robert Mugabe that the country is in need of “comprehensive reforms” to attract investment, end cash shortages and stave off rising inflation but stopped short of telling the aging leader that the country was in a crisis.

But, at what was his first meeting with business leaders in a decade, Mugabe gave no signals that he is willing to change course, lecturing the leaders on their pleas for foreign direct investment and once again railing against foreign ownership of businesses.

The business leaders, comprising heads of the country’s largest business groups, were also careful not to offend Mugabe, littering their presentation with praises to the President.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) immediate past president, Busisa Moyo, defended businesses unwillingness to be candid with Mugabe about the state of the economy.

“I think to start a dialogue by being antagonist or crass would be naive and lacking intact. We want to build not destroy!” Moyo said on his Twitter account.

The delegation presented a 4000-word document to Mugabe at State House, listing a range of reforms that they said Zimbabwe needed to make in order to bring the country out of crisis.

“Comprehensive structural reforms are required to sustain medium term growth of the economy, in terms of both macroeconomic and structural as well as sectoral policies,” the business leaders said.

“These reforms would be, especially designed with special focus on reducing the cost of doing business – Zimbabwe is currently among the countries with the highest cost of doing business in the region and there is need to address the cost of doing business.”

They warned that “latent inflationary pressures are beginning to manifest” and that foreign exchange rationing by central bank were hurting industry.

In the soft-ball fashion that has characterised big business’ engagement with government, the business leaders said the current cash shortages had been caused by “current account deficits, symptomatic of an economy excessively reliant on domestic absorption”.

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