Text: Prime Minister's address to ZITF business forum

ADDRESS PM Morgan Tsvangirai – Address by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to the International Business Forum at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo on April 29, 2009:

Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Arthur Mutambara,

Minister of Industry and Commerce, Professor Welshman Ncube,

All Ministers here present,

The Chairman of National Economic Consultative Forum, Dr Robbie Mupawose,

Captains of Industry both local and international,

Union Leaders,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to be with you this morning to give you my vision regarding the direction our economy is taking. What is clear is that Zimbabwe belongs to all of us, its fate is in our own hands and we all have a role to play in ensuring the success of our beautiful nation.

The key issue to consider is how we can best reshape our economic destiny, and create a national economy which responds to the expectations of our citizens for jobs, decent earnings, stable prices, a bankable currency and that provides for sustained economic growth and development.

All citizens of this country deserve, as a right, a stable economy which can provide adequate goods and services at prices which are affordable to consumers and viable to business.

Zimbabweans have clear expectations on how their national economy should function and be managed. As Prime Minister, I am committed to ensuring that Zimbabwe once again assumes its position as a beacon of economic growth, stability and production both on the continent and in the region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Rebuilding our shattered economy is a priority for every Zimbabwean and it must be driven by you the business community. However, what you are able to achieve will be dependent on the leadership role played by your government.

In this urgent and important process, we must be open and honest with each other. The role of Government is to provide a stable environment that facilitates the growth and development of business in line with international standards and accepted norms that also serve to ensure the rights and welfare of employees.

In creating such an environment, restoring the rule of law is both a moral imperative and a business necessity. If business is the engine of growth, then the rule of law is the fuel that drives that engine.

The rule of law is the catalyst that provides the foundation of confidence for contractual dealings and investor activity without which no economy can run effectively.

The Global Political Agreement, upon which this inclusive Government is founded, calls for the promotion and adherence to the law, amongst other essential requirements for an operational democracy. My office is committed to ensuring that these conditions are met despite the fact that there continues to be blatant violations of the laws of this country by some hardline elements.

We as Zimbabweans all have a role to play in ensuring that the rule of law is applied and adhered to impartially for, as we have experienced, if one sector suffers then we all suffer.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The uncertain political climate over the past decade has created a negative image of the country internationally and this has caused key international partnerships created over long periods to be set aside or terminated to the detriment of the growth of industry.

Only through restoring the rule of law can we remove the uncertainty of doing business in Zimbabwe and restore investor confidence. The restoration of the rule of law is also an essential factor in attracting back to our country the millions of Zimbabwean economic exiles who have the education, skills and determination that are essential to reviving our ailing industrial sector.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The role of my Government in the national economy remains that of creating an enabling environment for business and labour to engage in the actual production and output of goods and services. We are in the process of formulating and implementing policies and regulations to enhance business confidence and wealth creation.

Last month we launched the Short Term Economic Recovery Plan which, coupled with the full implementation of the GPA, will provide the framework for our economic recovery.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today we face the challenge of demonstrating to the rest of the world a politically mature Zimbabwe that can offer greater opportunities for economic prosperity, political stability and poverty alleviation. An economy that does not benefit its citizens can neither guarantee political stability nor real harmony.

Zimbabwe is part of the global economy and as such we are seeking to harness financial, technological and market opportunities, which grow our economy. We have already started to build collaborative arrangements with private investors, international co-operating partners and financial institutions.

Coupled with this is our absolute need to commit ourselves to sound management of the national economy. It is imperative that all partners and stakeholders in the national economy act with a single resolution and communicate their single determination to grow Zimbabwe’s economy and wealth.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are all aware of the challenges facing us, from acute balance of payments problems, brain drain, deteriorating infrastructure, energy shortages, low capacity utilization in manufacturing, low mineral production and continued deliberate disruptions to the agricultural sector.

To overcome these challenges we must have a collective national resolve to cooperate and create opportunities and partnerships which will enable our people to benefit from the vast wealth potential which this country possesses. Government alone cannot do it. Labour alone cannot succeed. Business alone cannot succeed. Zimbabwe’s economic stability requires access to foreign markets, finance, technologies, skills and ideas, which are only made possible by all the key stakeholders working together as partners committed to our nation’s development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Zimbabwe is richly endowed with human and natural resources to create sufficient wealth for all its citizens irrespective of race, colour, tribe or creed.

Greed, economic opportunism and corruption have been our weakest link. Rather than aspiring merely to be wealthy individuals, we should aspire to be citizens of a wealthy country.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The National Economic Consultative Forum, must advise Government as a stakeholder institution professionally and without fear or favour. The NECF must come up with concrete advice on policy interventions aimed at stabilizing and growing the economy and Zimbabwe’s goodwill in the international community.

As Government, our task is to ensure that the public sector delivers quality services such as health, education, clean water, efficient transport, communications and energy services.

The responsibility to save and protect the quality of life for all must preoccupy us, the political leadership, irrespective of race, colour, tribe, religion or political affiliation. It is a historic burden borne by all those who offer to serve people. My Government has made a serious commitment to make policy and institutional adjustments which will drive a new development agenda that will sustain wealth generation for our citizens.

However, any real, long lasting rebound of a successful economy has to be accompanied by an equal if not more powerful value system. This value system can only rest on the pillars of civil liberties, the right of association and the right of civil society to challenge those entrusted with governance.

In this, business must also share in the responsibility of creating the future you want and put the long-term prosperity of the society ahead of instant gratification of dividends and capital appreciation. Corruption will not be tolerated and those that practise or promote corruption will be actively sought out and prosecuted by this government.

As the business community, you must commit to joining with us to rebuild our society and our economy. You cannot choose the aspects of the old way which you feel may be beneficial to you personally and still hope to benefit from the new measures we are implementing.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let us use our combined national intellectual capacity to create policies and practices that lead Zimbabwe to the highest level of growth and development. All foreign direct investment will be given the necessary courtesies and treated with professionalism at all times but based on the rules and regulations governing such investment. New partners will be sought and old partnerships intensified.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We all know what is best for our families, our businesses, our nation and our future. There is no logic in destroying the future of our country and that of our children. Let us desist from working towards the destruction of our country and our heritage.

Let us all speak with one voice and stand united regarding the Zimbabwe that we want and deserve. A nation where business is encouraged to flourish, the laws of the land are applied and adhered to and where a person can find a job, feed his or her children and watch them grow and prosper.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

That Zimbabwe is possible, but it is not guaranteed. Only by working together can that dream become a reality.

I look forward to working with you to make it so.

It now gives me great pleasure to declare the International Business Conference officially open.

I thank you.