By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Business |
BULAWAYO – Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who frequently goes to China whenever he gets sick, has urged Zimbabweans not to be biased towards foreign goods.
Officiating at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) business conference held in Bulawayo on Wednesday, Chiwenga who doubles as health minister said the country should not be biased towards foreign goods but promote their own.
“In my last address to this forum in April 2019, I cautioned that our biases and preferences as individuals and collectively as a nation for foreign goods and services over our own local products will not take us to the Zimbabwe we want,” he said.
“At the same time, some may have doubted what I said, but Covid-19 came and left us in no doubt that the ability to locally produce most of what we require in our economy is the best way to chart the course to our shared vision of a future without poverty in our population.
“One of the key lessons that we should, therefore, never forget from our Covid-19 experience is that a nation is more secure if it is really and able to rely on its own than foreign production.”
Chiwenga said the government has provided for domestic preferences in the evaluation of bids in the procurement of goods, adding that the policy is not designed to shield inefficient domestic production from international competition.
“There is no room for protection from inefficient production. Domestic firms must, therefore, continue upgrading their business technologies to increase efficiency before the entire nation can become internationally competitive,” he said.
“Domestic firms must be competitive at the macro level. We have just finished incentivising and as from this week going forward, we lifted that threshold which we had given up to US$5 million to US$10 million that Zimbabwean firms must be able to bid and do work of up to US$10 million without international companies. So do it,” he said.
But opposition aligned activist Pride Mkono said the challenge that leads to people preferring foreign goods is that the local industry is not producing enough at competitive pricing because of poor and inconsistent government policies.
“It is erroneous for VP Dr. CGN Chiwenga to say Zimbabweans are biased towards foreign products. The biggest challenge is that our local industry is not producing enough at competitive pricing because of poor and inconsistent government policies. If we can restore the country’s productive capacity then we will be in a better position.
“As a regular medical tourist to China the Honourable VP should be in the know about how industry functions. His comments are perhaps indications of arithmophobia which can be treated by reading a little of the ZimStats reports,” Mkono said.
Chiwenga has always been criticised for seeking treatment in China leaving health facilities in Zimbabwe dilapidated. Zimbabwe is in a health crisis made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic and most public hospitals are without administrative heads. Nehanda Radio