Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE 37th Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) annual congress begins in Bulawayo today with delegates expected to deliberate on a range of issues including the impact of the re-introduction of the local currency on business operations.
Government outlawed the use of multicurrency system on all forms of local transactions in June this year as part of efforts to bring sanity in the economy in line with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme.
Emcoz president, Dr Israel Murefu, said between 100 and 120 delegates were expected to attend this year’s congress under the theme, “Managing Turbulence for Sustainable Business”.
“The major issues under discussion are around the introduction of mono-currency as a result of the promulgation of SI 142 of 2019 and its impact on business operations,” he told Business Chronicle.
In addition, he said delegates would discuss price escalations and the attendant high inflation, which is affecting the economy and impacting negatively on business operations as well as incomes, especially of working people.
Recently prices of basic commodities increased astronomically in what has been attributed to the fluctuating interbank exchange rates and forex shortage.
“We will also discuss progress with respect to the TNF (Tripartite Negotiating Forum), which has just been operationalised and explore ways of making it effective in terms of guiding national dialogue on socio economic issues.
“The TNF is still new as a legal platform for social and economic dialogue but the fact that it is now a creature of statute marks a break with the past when it used to be a voluntary platform,” said Dr Murefu.
He said the TNF was now a legal body under which employers expect binding resolutions to be made once business, labour and Government agree to a common position on any particular issue under discussion.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza will be the guest of honour at the event. Other dignitaries on line up include Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Dr John Mangudya, and Zisco acting board chairman, Dr Gift Mugano.
Dr Murefu said employers also expect to tackle issues around the energy deficit in an environment where the key ingredients that drive production, namely electricity, fuel and water are in short supply and exert an effect on businesses. He said it was essential that the energy crisis facing the country is addressed effectively if Zimbabwe is to become productive and competitive as an economy and investment destination.
“There are other issues impacting the economy and business, which we intend to discuss and attempt to proffer solutions or influence the authorities for policy decisions apart from the main ones I have mentioned,” he said.
Dr Murefu said due to foreign currency shortage, obsolete equipment, rising inflation, and power constraints, the obtaining operating environment was tough for business.
“This makes doing business very difficult and it is like the country has taken the clock back to 2008 with the only difference this time round being availability of goods in the shops with very limited cash.
“And yet in 2008 there was plenty of money in circulation but without goods to buy in the shops.
“Employers are, therefore, struggling to stay afloat and to meet workers and customers expectations because of the harsh operating environment but we commend them for being resilient and not closing shop under very difficult times,” he said.
President Mnangagwa has pledged to meet the business sector in a spirited effort to find ways of arresting business practices causing unprecedented consumer price hikes. He has said while Government acknowledges that the new monetary measures and the drought may have added to present price actions, he did not accept such actions were justified in all cases.
“The whole situation becomes completely unjustified and untenable when only prices of basic commodities continue to escalate against static or even declining wages.
“Surely a generalised price escalation should and must have a bearing on wage levels in the economy,” said the President. — @okazunga