The private sector has launched complains against the government, saying it is not consulting all the key stakeholders for policy implementation.
Speaking during the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) workshop held in Harare, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president, Divine Ndhlukula said that the government has not been very engaging as much as they ought to be.
“I think that is where the problem is starting from. The involvement of stakeholders has not been very apparent; particularly the private sector involvement and the rest of the other stakeholders like the youths, women and the rest of other stakeholders,” Ndlukula said. “I think that is where we are starting our major issue with.”
The workshop comes after Zimbabwe signed the AfCFTA with 44 other African countries at the 10th extraordinary Summit of the African Union Assembly on 21 March this year in Kigali, Rwanda.
Ndlukula further said that the policy-making process has not been very wide and inclusive, and for that reason, Zimbabwe is not ready to open up trade with other African countries.
“The mindset of our government has not been very inclusive. They go around and they negotiate trade agreements and so on and simply go ahead and sign without really getting everyone involved,” ZNCC president said.
“Yes we really fall for the the African Free Trade Agreement Area as the the private sector, but I think our problem is the government has not been very engaging as much as they should, hence we find that there is a haphazard way of us getting into this very noble initiative.”
Zimbabwe recently signed the AfCFTA agreement for free trade across Africa and players in the private sector are claiming that they connived behind their backs by not consulting them.
President of the Association of SADC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Oswell Dinha also shared the same sentiments with Ndhlukula. He said the government of Zimbabwe cherry picks the private sector in making decisions.
“They (government) don’t engage, they actually cherry pick. If there is any issues they (government) are of interest to you and they want to be seen to have engaged, they will invite Elisha and Elisha makes a contribution for them the private sector has made it,(sic)” Dinha said
“The government of Zimbabwe does not involve any private sector players in any of the negotiations. They pick up a position and they advise you. We (private sector) are not at the table, we are on the table.”
“There are national committees which are supposed to be set up, which are supposed to be run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which include public sector and private sector,” Dinha added.
Tralac executive director, Trudi Hartzenberg, who also attended the workshop said that an inclusive policy process and an inclusive trade negotiation process where the government keeps all stakeholders informed is indeed found in rarity in Africa.
“It is not only Zimbabwe that battles with this, I think if we had to go across the continent, we would find many countries saying exactly the same thing, but its not an excuse for us to do nothing, its really important tha we work on that,” Hartzenberg said.