Zimbabwe: Engaging stakeholders on economic growth and lingering challenges

View of the city from Meyrick Park, Harare. (Flickr/Jonathan N. Wakeling)

On Thursday, May 13, the Africa Center hosted a Zimbabwe roundtable, in partnership with the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank, featuring perspectives from government and the private sector on economic growth and lingering challenges. Panelists featured Zimbabwean Minister of Finance and Economic Development H.E. Prof. Mthuli Ncube, alongside Mr. Jaco Beyers, Managing Director of John Deere Africa Middle East; Mr. Nyimpini Mabunda, CEO for Southern Africa at General Electric; and Mr. Samuel Matsekete, Group CEO of Old Mutual Zimbabwe. Africa Center Senior Fellow Ms. Aubrey Hruby moderated the discussion after opening remarks from Africa Center Director Amb. Rama Yade.

In her comments, after having reminded participants of the long and painful history of Zimbabwe despite the promise upon independence, Amb. Yade laid out the tough challenges Zimbabwe faces and how economic and political issues are intrinsically tied. She cited how economic reforms touch on key issues of openness and rule of law and play an important role in supporting prosperity for the country’s citizens.

In his comments to open the panel, Minister Ncube provided an economic update, citing progress on indicators of inflation, debt, and budgetary health. The private sector representatives shared their experiences given their operations and recent investments, with John Deere leading in agriculture and construction; GE in healthcare, power, and aviation; and Old Mutual in providing financial services across sectors.

In the ensuing discussion, panelists shared views on the human impact of inflation, the opportunities and challenges around recruiting Zimbabwean talent, and how tech, innovation, and creativity will be needed to drive growth. Participants further engaged the company representatives on how they approach corporate social responsibility in such an environment, as well as how to manage currency risk, repatriating profits, and taking advantage of innovation in the country’s startup sector.

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