’Sort out currency uncertainty’

BY Veneranda Langa

LEGISLATORS yesterday called on government to sort out the currency uncertainty if Zimbabwe is to participate meaningfully in the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The issue was discussed in the National Assembly during debate on a motion brought by Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi on ratification of a protocol on the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Hatfield legislator Tapiwa Mashakada (MDC Alliance) said ratification of the protocol was imperative, adding that there was need to fix the currency issue so that other countries can be able to trade with Zimbabwe.

“We need to fix the currency issue if we are to join international trade so that there is stability and people from other countries know that if they trade with Zimbabwe they will be able to get their money back,” Mashakada said.

“We must also  ensure our borders are one-stop borders, because Beitbridge Border Post, for example, is a nightmare and traders take weeks to move their goods.”

Mashakada said Africa was lagging behind in inter-trade, trading at only 12% among member countries, compared to countries in the Americas at 20%, East Asia and Pacific countries at 47% and European Union (EU) countries trading at 63%.

Harare East MP Tendai Biti (MDC Alliance ) said it was not sufficient for Africa to have a free trade area without a monetary union to complete the vision of international integration.

“We need both the free trade area and a monetary union because the advantage is that we will be able to use one currency.  The EU has succeeded, not because it has a free trade area, but because it has a monetary union,” he said.

Biti  said the debate on the adoption of the rand union was imperative for Zimbabwe at the moment.

The problem with African countries was of illicit financial flows (IFFs), noted Biti, adding: “We receive more than $3 billion worth of aid every year, but more than $5 billion exits Africa in IFFs. If we shut down borders and plug these leakages, we will not require foreign aid,” Biti said.