Prince Sunduzani, Business Reporter
THE Special Economic Zones (SEZs) model is taking long to implement and Government needs to intervene to speed up the process for the initiative to achieve intended results, an industry executive has said.
The SEZ policy was signed into law in 2016 as part of measures to attract foreign direct investment through enabling free market oriented legislation and flexible fiscal terms in designated areas.
In an interview, Association for Business in Zimbabwe (ABUZ) chief executive, Mr Victor Nyoni, said the new political administration needs to put in place all the fundamentals needed in making the SEZ initiative functional. He stressed the need for the new Government to take deliberate steps to ensure the model takes shape.
His sentiments come on the back of recent remarks by SEZs Authority board chair, Dr Gideon Gono, that lack of funding, the absence of a chief executive officer (CEO) and secretariat, were impeding the operationalisation of three SEZ pilot projects hence slow-progress in the implementation process. Dr Gono was appointed SEZ chair in June last year.
“We need to speed up the work that we are doing. You heard Dr Gono saying that they still haven’t had an office, they don’t have a secretariat, there is no CEO for the SEZ organ and all of those things mean that we can only achieve a bit. The sooner all those things are put in place then we can move forward,” said Mr Nyoni.
“Government must quickly intervene. Now that we have a new administration, what is important is for the new administration to spell out if indeed they believe in the SEZ approach.
“The sooner the new administration says this is the right approach in trying to turn around the economy I’m sure that will build confidence in what we are doing and progress will be seen. We would want to see Government giving clarity on how we should move on with it.”
Bulawayo, Harare’s Sunway City and Victoria Falls are the three designated pilot projects while Government has added Tokwe Mukorsi as a fourth zone.
Mr Nyoni said SEZs in Bulawayo were still at infancy stage, pointing out that slow progress was being realised despite the committee having already identified areas to be put under the programme.
“We are still at planning stages. All stakeholders in Bulawayo have come together and formed a committee, which is assessing the possibility of designating particular spaces as economic zones. “Bulawayo has already provided some space within which special economic zone activities can take place. There is a lot of enthusiasm, people wanting to work together and a lot of work is being done,” he said.