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VICE-PRESIDENT Constantino Chiwenga has said the COVID-19 pandemic has taught Zimbabweans to be their own economic liberators and that the country would be more secure if it relies on its own production.

Officiating at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair international business conference held in Bulawayo yesterday, Chiwenga said assistance from other countries would not lead to development.

“The pandemic has greatly altered the way we conduct ourselves as businesses and nations,” he said.

“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.

“Due to our historical circumstances, we must never lose sight of the economic emancipation imperatives. Our experiences since last year when the COVID-19 curse was reported, affirms that we must be our own economic liberators. We must lift our people out of poverty on our own.”

Chiwenga said assistance from others in this respect

“is welcome, but at the end of the day, we must be responsible for and determine our own destiny”.

“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.

“At the same time, some may have doubted what I said, but COVID-19 came and left us in no doubt that the ability to locally produce most of what we require in our economy is the best way to chart the course to our shared vision of a future without poverty in our population.

“One of the key lessons that we should, therefore, never forget from our COVID-19 experience is that a nation is more secure if it is really and able to rely on its own than foreign production.”

For this reason, Chiwenga said they 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. 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 said.

“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.”

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