VETERAN hotelier and former general manager of Golden Peacock Villa Hotel in Mutare, Tamuka Macheka, was last week Thursday elected the new president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC).
The former Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe president took over from Securico Services founder, Divine Ndhlukula. Macheka will be deputised by Victoria Falls-based transporter Ozias Marange whilst Manicaland will be represented by Kenneth Saruchera who was retained.
Macheka a long established hotelier who served as a manager in many top hotels but has since started running his own hotel projects and events management firm under Kestmer Investments told Eastern Times Business that he was geared for the job at hand and was happy to be at the helm of the business lobby group during the current era of the new dispensation and forthcoming elections.
He described it as historic era to serve as president and pinned his hope continued impetus towards prioritising development before political ambitions.
“Since the coming in of the new dispensation government business experienced a breath of fresh air. From his inaugural speech until now the President (E.D Mnangagwa) has been hitting the right notes. The reengagement of the international community, review of the Indigenisation Policy, his emphasis towards peaceful and fair elections throughout the election campaign till present day, the Zimbabwe is open for business mantra and many other notables all pinpoint positives which give hope and which I applaud,” said Macheka.
He said in a short space of time the political will shown by the inclusive government towards tackling key issues affecting business was a positive, citing examples of how Zimbabwe is taking lessons from the success story of Rwanda where ease of doing business is efficient with company registration by foreign investors taking just five hours instead of months as was the case in Zimbabwe.
In his strategy he said instead of crying over spoilt milk and doing the blame game he will prefer to proffer solutions and encourage timeframes for every set agenda.
“I am aware everybody can articulate the challenges we are facing as a country and as business, but what we now need is to proffer solutions to those solutions rather than just vindicating each other. Everyone should work with government to transform the economy. The key focus will be to beyond problem definition to solution definition, which means addressing the root of most of our dogging economic problems. For instance we have a problem of shortage of foreign currency. The solution definition will be on the best concerted approach to tackle the problem which creates a win-win for both the public and government, not a one sided approach. This will be my thrust to problem solving as most solutions before have been forced on the people rather than them being done after consultations and dialogue,” he said.
Macheka said the current era of public and private partnerships in major government projects was the modern way of doing business which also reduces corruption in the public sector if more checks and balances are instilled in tender processes and audits to follow up on the projects. He added that the key enablers which affect industry and ease of doing business must be addressed, with set time frames, in order to deal with the low capacity utilisation in the country, which he said is the only way to tackling the quandary of high unemployment and the growing informal sector which evades taxation.
“The whole ease of doing business issue I know is already being looked into by the Office of the President, but we need to hasten the process of intervention and implementation on the ground. This is no longer a time for talk shops but walking the talk and that will be my thrust as ZNCC president. However as Zimbabweans we must seize the moment and be proactive in the developmental mode by harnessing business opportunities during this Zimbabwe is open for business period. God is on our side and we should exercise faith in our leadership especially when they have shown good will on their part,” said Macheka.
What Macheka said tallies with the prediction early this year by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) which projected capacity utilisation to increase to 48 percent in 2018 from 45,1 percent on the backdrop of the growing increase in investment deals in several local companies.
Macheka however said this would also be dependent on mitigation measures employed on foreign currency allocation and ease of doing business interventions particularly in the agro-processing sector.
Capacity utilisation is the percentage of the firm’s total possible production capacity that is actually being used. It refers to the relationship between actual output with the installed equipment, and the potential output, which can be produced with it.
Last year, the country’s capacity utilisation dropped by 2,3 percent to 45,1 percent from 47,4 percent in 2016, mostly due to high production costs and shortage of raw materials, low local demand and foreign currency shortages.
“The economy was still way off the mark in terms of desired levels of industrialisation. Some recovery has been witnessed since import restrictions were imposed last year through policies like SI (Statutory Instrument) 64. We reiterate and believe that the key priority issues that need to be worked on at macro level include a pervasive lack of confidence in the economy that is hurting new investment. Government was spending money it does not have, at the expense of an uncompetitive and depressed private sector, imbalance between money in the RTGS accounts and underlying nostros and significant forex shortage were also negatively affecting importation of critical raw materials. But this should be the past as we go ahead thinking positively,” said Macheka.
He also encouraged government to speed up progress on the Local Content Policy (LCP) validation. The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development, in collaboration with the private sector, since May has been in the process of formulating a LCP which will form a key part of government’s broad industrialisation initiative. The policy is aimed at promoting local value addition through linkages and utilisation of domestic resources.
Macheka also called for urgent address of the high tariffs regime which he said were hindering investment particularly in the energy sector. “As it stands, energy charges remain higher than the regional averages, leaving the sector and country unattractive to investors, as energy is one of the key pillars they look at before investing. This is what we will continue to push for as a chamber,” said the new ZNCC president.