Chiwenga was addressing captains of industry and commerce during the International Business Conference Wednesday, which ran concurrently with the ongoing 61st edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).
“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.
Chiwenga said the pandemic had altered the way people conduct themselves in the business world.
“Hence, these forums present a good opportunity for us to put our minds together on how we can move closer to a contactless model of doing business, driving on increased use of online technologies,” said Chiwenga
“Due to our historical circumstances, we must never lose sight of the economic emancipation imperatives. Our experiences since last year when the Covid-19 scourge was reported, affirms that we must be our own economic liberators. We must lift our people out of poverty on our own.”
He said Covid-19 had taught nations across the world, Zimbabwe included that their security lies in local production, adding the country had since provided for domestic preferences in the evaluation of bids in the procurement of goods.
“However, the policy is not designed to shield inefficient domestic production from international competition,” he said.
“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 added: “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 however said foreign direct investment (FDI) was still welcome in the country.