By Josiah Dimbo in Harare :The major challenge to the Zimbabwean government since independence has been to remove the barriers and limitations inhibiting the participation of indigenous Zimbabweans in the mainstream economy said a cabinet minister when officially opening the Affirmative Action Group Indaba on Commercial Property rentals recently.
The Minister of Youth Development, Indigenization and Empowerment, Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, said , despite successes achieved, notably in the social sectors and some professions entrenched inequities continue to characterize the economy and act as a deterrent to growth, economic development, employment creation and poverty eradication.
“Thirty years since independence, vast racial inequalities in the distribution and access to resources , health, income skills and employment opportunities still persist.” said Hon. Kasukuwere.
He added that societies characterized by entrenched racial or ethically defined wealth patterns of disparities are not likely to be socially and politically stable.
“It is imperative that racial inequalities are eliminated as this is a prerequisite for sustainable growth.” added Kasukuwere.
Recent studies on the levels of indigenization of the economy were achieved in land, the social sectors and some professions such as accounting, management and lawyers.
Kasukuwere lamented little progress achieved in terms of significant ownership by indigenous people in other key sectors of the economy like the real estate sector, and in particular the commercial property subsector.
The Minister further castigated property owners who abuse tenants by increasing rentals without justification. “We have observed willy-nilly increases in rentals since the introduction of the United States Dollar as an official medium of exchange in the country.” said Kasukuwere.
Kasukuwere challenged the property owners to justify the increase yet there is a rapid reduction of inflation to below the 10% levels.
Rentals in Zimbabwe have been increased regularly and in some cases on a monthly basis.
Speaking at the same occasion the Permanent Secretary of Small and Medium Enterprises and Community Cooperation Development, Madam Ndlovu on behalf of the Minister, said the SME’s face a considerable number of challenges which are diverse and relate to policy, regulatory, institutional and capacity among others.
“High cost of rentals for commercial premises and unfair business practices by large corporations are inhibiting the growth of SME’s.” said Ndlovu.
Ndlovu noted that lack of growth in the construction industry has lead to over commercialization of properties. Turning to exorbitant electricity and water charges, Ndlovu noted that these utilities have been also commercialized.
“The problem with the commercialization of electricity and water emanates from the billing system which is based on estimates resulting in atrocious if not appalling charges.” noted Ndlovu.
She further challenged the AAG and other affirmative action groups to be proactive, to intervene and correct the situation. The Indaba was attended by property owners, tenants and journalists.