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Mnangagwa ducks CEO Africa roundtable

by Staff reporter
16 Feb 2019 at 20:11hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday ducked the prestigious CEO Africa round table conference, which ran over the past three days in Victoria Falls.

Over 300 business leaders from across the continent had descended on the tourist resort to discuss means and ways of extricating the region from further economic malaise.

Mnangagwa was billed to deliver a keynote address at the conference.

Expectation was high that he would explain his administration's efforts to turn around the country's economic fortunes to top company chefs from outside the country, seen as key in luring investment into the country.

He was also expected to reach out to African businesses through his "Zimbabwe is open for business mantra."

The Zanu-PF leader stands accused of skipping Africa in his investment promotion drive, with some critics opining he has been expending much of his energy on the international markets, who have not materially answered his clarion call for investment into Zimbabwe.

The conference, it was hoped, would have helped Mnangagwa convince the African CEOs that their enterprises could also play a role in assisting Zimbabwe's economic revival.
However, despite all the expectations, the President did not turn up for the engagement, much to the chagrin of the organizers.

A disappointed CEO Africa round table chairman, Oswell Binha, told NewsDay Weekender yesterday that his organisation was advised "at the last minute" that there were technicalities that had resulted in Mnangagwa failing to attend.

"As the Round Table, we have hosted the President before. The process and procedure we followed this year is the same that we followed last year. We were then advised that we had not followed the correct process," Binha
He added that the advice, which was given, was that Mnangagwa's invitation to officiate at the business leaders' conference should have been wired via the Industry and Commerce ministry, headed by Mangaliso Ndlovu.

Ironically, Ndlovu had also been scheduled to address the conference alongside his Finance counterpart, Mthuli Ncube, but both were in no-show at the event.

"The advice we got, albeit at the last minute, was that we were supposed to have gone through the office of the parent ministry," Binha said.

He added: "Obviously, I would like to confirm that a few processes have gone on in the context of trying to correct that mistake.

"Because of the time constraints between the time we had to correct that mistake and the time for the conference, we seem not to have had a decision in our favour. However, some developments seem to worry us. It appears we are bogged down on the processes on how we should have done things than the issues at hand that we have to deal with as a nation and at a conference of this nature."

Binha said it was the CEOs' legitimate expectation that Mnangagwa would find the time to attend and interact with business leaders as he had done in the past.

He said the CEOs, being decision-makers, were an important component in the economic turnaround efforts of the Zimbabwean government.

Shying away from them, Binha added, would stand to cost government of the rich views the sector has towards the economy.

"For us, this engagement has nothing to do with personalities or disrespecting the Office of the President and Cabinet," he said.

"This is about issues. We are hosting the most critical component of Zimbabwe's productive sector, and the quality of delegates who came to this year's round table is amazing. It is naive on our part not to advise government that missing such an important part is a disservice both to their programmes and to national service."

He also said government should be aware that Mnangagwa's decision to "run away" from the private sector would not silence the players in the sector from pointing out shortfalls from government corridors.

"This is my clarion call to government. Private sector does not stop its programmes because public sector employees have not responded to their invitation," Bimha said.

"It does not undermine the quality of debates around the issues. It does not eradicate the issues. It's not about personalities. It's about national interest.

"So if the public service employees around the president want to be an impediment to access to the president, it must be an issue of concern to him. We need him. He needs us.
You do not need to create a situation where you consistently want to listen to your own voices. We don't need to like each other to work with each other."

Source - newsday