Industrialist Sifelani Jabangwe (pictured) says the goods a country produces classifies it as either poor or rich.
For him, beneficiation and value addition are the vehicles which carry an economy to first world status.
“Countries are poor mainly because of the type of the goods that they produce. The goods that you produce make you a third world country or a first world country and in the case for Zimbabwe we are what we are because we are not adding value to the resources that we have. Poor countries manufacture poverty products and rich countries manufacture rich products,” the industrialist told Business Times this week.
“If we can start beneficiating, the country’s economy will boom in a shortest possible time.”
He said the local industry should develop goods to the fullest like the first world countries do so that one can get the best out of the product.
Jabangwe said Zimbabwe has the resources and human capital to begin value addition and it is up to the industry to start producing products that take the country to top status.
The industrialist played a part in the setting up of the foreign currency auction system which is credited in availing the forex to companies, thereby reducing the over-reliance on the parallel market.
“I helped in the establishment of the forex auction system so that the manufacturing companies could easily access forex to produce more,” he said.
According to the statistics from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe has over US$1.5bn of nostro balances, the highest since independence.
Despite such balances, Jabangwe said the market does not have confidence to liquidate their forex reserves so that they can be available for other companies to utilise.
“It’s only an issue of confidence to continue to improve these current policies that led to the stabilisation of the exchange rate,” he said.
He was the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries vice president for two years in 2016 and rose to the national president in 2017 at a time when the new administration came into power.
From 2017, the business and government began an interactive dialogue where the leaders could meet the President to discuss the problems that the industry is facing.
“My role there was to manage relations between government and business while ensuring that business played its role in Transitional Stabilisation Programme.
“Some of my achievements is leading the delegation to meet the leaders of the new administration and began a path of interactive dialogue between business and the government,” the industrialist said.
He also co-chaired the committee drafting local content strategy and at that time at CZI the industrialists’ body drafted the economic round table which was instrumental in working with the government.
The local content policy must be implemented in full so that the country can be able to produce enough products for its market and later sell to export markets, he said.
The former CZI boss said the country needs to develop new industries as it is consuming US$6bn to US$10bn of imported goods at a time when the country has plenty resources.
He said it is possible to produce goods worth US$10bn as long there are polices that support the efforts of the manufacturers and it all depends with the policy framework.
On Statutory Instrument 127 of 2021, Jabangwe said the government has taken a position to deal with those firms that got forex on the auction and later abused it and the market now understands that.
“What needs to be done in future is that we avoid too many policy changes which may shock the market.
“At the moment the market is stabilised and there is no need to bring new policy changes that affect that stability,” Jabangwe said.
He added that the local manufacturing sector needs US$2 billion for raw material imports this year to lift capacity utilisation to around 60-70% levels from 48% during the second quarter of 2021.
He is the general manager of James North and had been there since 2007.
He joined as production manager landing the general manager’s post after four years. His target is for James North to service its market.
“In line with Vision 2030 and growth projections and the current growth we aim that James North grows significantly in order to be able to continue to serve the market that we target, that, is, construction, agriculture and industry,” he said.
“The long-time plans we have on the table is retooling and acquisition of new equipment.”
Jabangwe carried through the protective wearing company through the hyper-inflationary environment then stabilised it and aims to grow it.
He sits on the Cottco Holdings board.
Jabangwe supports Emergination Africa which is into imparting business knowledge in school children through conducting the annual business case competition for high schools across the country.
The organisation also focuses on creating jobs so that they could become entrepreneurs.
His hobbies are reading and researching especially when it comes to industry and industrialisation.
“I spend most of my time doing issues of economic development especially when I help out CZI and Industry and Commerce ministry,” he said.
His favourite books are The Rich Dad Poor Dad and Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
He is inspired by Francis Welch Jr who was an American business executive, chemical engineer, and writer who became chairman and CEO of General Electric between 1981 and 2001.
Jabangwe also took inspiration from South Korea and China which developed in the shortest possible time and showed that it can be done and according to him a company or economy can develop into a big company in very few years.
Jabangwe’s favourite quotations is “the best way to create the future is to create it” by Peter Drucker.
He also likes the Chinese saying which goes: “Men who say it cannot be done should not disturb those doing it.”
He joined CarnaudMetalbox as a trainee engineer, rising to production manager. He then joined James North as production manager.