DEPUTY Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe says Bulawayo’s collapsed industries could be revived if all stakeholders work together.
Report by Musa Dube
Once the country’s industrial hub, companies in Bulawayo have either closed down or relocated to Harare. Estimates say over 100 companies have closed shop affecting over 20 000 employees.
In her remarks at a business conference on the side-lines of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (Zitf), Khupe said companies that used to employ over 1 000 had either cut down on employees or closed.
“But I still believe the industry can be revived if we change our mindset and copy how other countries like India and China have done it. Let’s unite for a common cause,” she said.
Bulawayo mayor Thaba Moyo pleaded with relevant stakeholders to restore Bulawayo as the country’s industrial hub.
Moyo said local employment had suffered severely, affecting the livelihoods of people.
“Even those who have means have tended to import labour from outside the city. Regrettably what they might not realise and appreciate is that this behaviour is self-defeating as their enterprises are also affected,” he said.
Moyo said banks should also support Bulawayo companies.
“It does not make economic sense to bank locally and yet be referred to other centres for assistance,” he said.
Big companies like National Blankets, Zeco, Cold Storage Commission, National Railways of Zimbabwe and clothing companies such as Archer, Security Mills and Merlin have down-sized production while others have closed shop due to operational constraints.
Government set up a US$40 million fund to revive Bulawayo companies but the disbursement has been slow due to political tussles in the inclusive government.
Under the Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf), government and Old Mutual are supposed to put US$20 million each to the fund.
“Even though Dimaf was announced, there has been no real development or significant benefits,” Moyo said.
For companies to be considered for funding, they must provide collateral, audited financial accounts for the past two years, projections for capital expenditure covering the tenure of the loan, budgets and cash flows and turnaround strategies including a business plan.
Companies say the requirements are too stringent to meet. This year’s edition of ZITF which ended yesterday, opened on Tuesday.