Zimbabwe is losing at least $27 on every kilogramme of unprocessed tobacco that it exports, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube told an investment conference in Switzerland last week.

Ncube said that Zimbabwe was one of the largest producers of tobacco in the world and the bulk was exported unprocessed.

Zimbabwe produced a record tobacco crop this year of 252.5 million kgs.

The previous record was 236 million kgs in 2000 when the land reform intensified. At the time there were only about 5 000 growers but there are more than 100 000 growers now.

The average price has also gone down.

“The average prices are $3/kg for unprocessed and $6/kg for crushed tobacco as compared to between $30 and $60 for tobacco cigarettes,” Ncube said.

“Therefore, by exporting unprocessed tobacco we are also giving away value of at least $27 per kilogramme that could be accruing to the country.

“Beneficiation also helps in triggering the emergency of vertical and horizontally integrated industries – a strategy for luring both local and foreign direct investment.”

Zimbabwe is looking for serious foreign direct investment to boost its economy so that it becomes a middle income country by 2030.

Although there appeared to be a lot of interest in the country before the elections, business seems to have cooled down following repeated claims by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Nelson Chamisa that he won the 30 July elections but was robbed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Court which ruled in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s favour.

Mnangagwa says the time of electioneering is over. People must now focus on the economics. But Chamisa says he has the keys to the economy and says he will be piling pressure on Mnangagwa to step down within the next two months.

The Zimbabwe Students Association and pressure group Tajamuka said Mnangagwa must step down before Thursday.

The country has been facing an economic crisis since the beginning of this month when the government announced new measures which it said were aimed at reviving the economy but have backfired with goods disappearing from supermarket shelves, and the black market flourishing.

Mnangagwa is meeting the business community tomorrow in what his spokesman said would be a n interactive meeting where the President would be seeking to get the thinking of business vis a vis the measures his government has taken to revive the economy.

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