‘Ditch old equipment and invest in new’

Africa Moyo Senior Business Reporter
Zimbabwe must consider investing in new manufacturing equipment as opposed to “resuscitating” old and dilapidated equipment, if production is to be increased, riding on improved efficiencies, according to Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Development Professor Amon Murwira.

He said this and other policy interventions would see Zimbabwe claiming a significant slice of the international market on many products.

The minister said this during the recent 6th annual collective bargaining summit organised by the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz).

Prof Murwira said manufacturing plants, some of which were commissioned during the Second World War, no longer required “resuscitation”, but replacing with new ones.

“There is a lot of language in this country which I want to share with you about ‘resuscitation of industry’,” said Prof Murwira.

“I hope you know what resuscitating means. It refers to something that is dead, is it? So why resuscitate? Build new things. You can’t be competitive when using old equipment, which sees enables you to make one car in 10 days, for instance.

“That language of resuscitating, I say no. For some (industries) yes, but for some no; don’t resuscitate those things. Just create new ones, new opportunities.”

A number of companies are using old equipment, some of which was commissioned between 1923 and 1947, making them inefficient resulting in high costs of products.

Most of the companies are struggling to break onto the international market due to production inefficiencies and battle to replace spare parts for machinery in the event of breakdowns.

Prof Murwira said one of his ministry’s mandates was to chart a new trajectory for the country.

“It’s also the terms of reference of my ministry to make sure that we have new thinking, new direction (for the economy). We are moving forward to prosperity but it looks like overalls; you can miss an opportunity because by nature it’s in a greasy overall.

“Opportunity dresses itself as work because it is work. Nothing just comes for free,” said Prof Murwira.

He also said the term “economy” is being abused in the country as some people think there can be no economy without production.

Prof Murwira said there was need to build the economy either through mining or crop production. Once mining or crop growing has been achieved, then the products can be taken to the manufacturing sector for processing.

“To tell you the truth, production has two basis; either you mine it or you grow it and then thirdly you manufacture it. So either it has been mined then manufactured or grown then manufactured,” said Prof  Murwira.

“Manufacturing prowess is based on raw materials that are either mined or grown. I liked one advert sometime in the ‘90s maybe done by Cottco, which said ‘I grew this T-shirt’.

“When you see people exchanging money on the streets claiming it’s the economy, you know you are finished. Money must represent value, we are no longer concentrating on producing value, we are now exchanging money.

“When you see people exchanging money on the streets then you are lost, that’s stupidity. We should refuse to be stupid and do production. I say return to the spirit of the 1970s and 1980s of production.”

He also said it was important for the country to have “industrialists” as opposed to “businesspeople”.

For Prof Murwira, industrialist invest for the long-term especially in manufacturing while businesspeople are seasonal, focusing on retailing trending goods when opportunities arise.

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