THE CONFEDERATION of Zimbabwe Industries’ three-day congress ended on Friday in Bulawayo with captains of industry proposing a number of solutions to the problems facing the collapsing manufacturing sector.
The high-powered congress was attended by top government officials including several ministers and their deputies who took part in discussions to turn the economy around.
Industry and Commerce mister Mike Bimha, Indigenisation minister Francis Nhema and Finance deputy minister Stanley Udenge were some of the high-profile delegates.
CZI president Charles Msipa said hosting the congress in Bulawayo was strategic as the city was the hardest hit by deindustrialisation after close to 100 companies had closed down by last year.
As part of measures to stimulate growth in industry, the congress resolved to push for the urgent declaration of Bulawayo as a special economic zone.
CZI also resolved to submit a proposal to the government urging introduction of a “wage correction policy”.
The congress agreed that Zimbabwe’s wages were too high compared to other regional countries and this would hamper efforts to revive local industry.
“Labour laws are the greatest impediment to productivity and the competitiveness of industry and as such we want a wage system that is productivity-based,” part of the CZI resolutions read.
“There is need for an automatic wage reduction in terms of companies that are in distress.
“We need to be able to retrench at acceptable standard retrenchment package of one week per salary versus the current two-three months per year salary.”
The congress also urged the government to revisit the South African-Zimbabwe Trade agreement signed in 1996.
The agreement calls for a duty-free regime or preferential tariff quota for items including dairy products, potatoes, birds, eggs, among other products.
Captains of industry said the agreement had resulted in the influx of cheap foreign commodities.
Zimplow chief executive officer Zondi Kumwenda said there was abuse of trading protocols, especially the Sadc certificate.
“Not all protocols are bad, but there has been serious abuse of the Sadc certificate of origin where goods from China are now originating from South Africa,” he said.
“This has to be stopped by putting serious anti-dumping tariffs.”
The congress said porous borders were undermining industrial development and urged the government to prioritise modern control techniques and technologies.
Bimha told the congress that discussions over the issue were already ongoing with the government expected to come with a position soon.