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Business pins hopes on new govt

THE Bulawayo business community has urged the incoming government to create an enabling environment for local enterprises and to implement policies that encourage business growth in Zimbabwe’s second city.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

In separate interviews last week, local industry said government should walk the talk and prioritise business over politics.

Zanu PF leader Emmerson Mnangagwa is Zimbabwe’s president-elect according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission results from the just-ended election and is expected to form the next government.

Mnangagwa won 50,8% of the vote against MDC Alliance candidate Nelson Chamisa’s 44,3%.

“Obviously, our perennial problems are to industrialise, to attract more investments into the city of Bulawayo,” said Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Bulawayo chapter chairman Golden Muoni.

“Remember we used to be the country’s industrial hub.

“We expect the new government to create an enabling environment for both local and foreign investors.”

He said government should make sure that the roll-out of special economic zones (SEZs) was expedited.

“So we expect more of implementation of policies and also creating an enabling environment for the local people,” Muoni said.

“Right now, we have got a number of challenges, which are to do with foreign currency shortages.

“We are heavily affected compared to other regions. We rely heavily on what happens in Harare. We don’t control what happens in Harare.

“So we expect the new government to speed up policy issues, which have been hanging around and we need more foreign currency to be available for businesses so that we start working again. “We need more business and less politics.”

Bulawayo was earmarked for one of the SEZs by government several years ago, but the programme has not yet been fully implemented.

The city has suffered de-industrialisation over the past two decades with over 100 firms, mostly in the manufacturing, engineering and textile sectors, closing down and leaving thousands of workers jobless.

Association for Business in Zimbabwe CEO Victor Nyoni said the incoming government should create an enabling environment for businesses in the city to thrive.

“This is the time to walk the talk. What the president-elect promised to do during the campaign period should be implemented for the economy to move forward,” he said.

“If indeed we are serious about attracting investment into the country, property rights should be respected.

“Also government should continue engaging with the international community.”

Business Economic Empowerment Forum (BEEF) for Bulawayo province governor Sam Ncube said businesses in the city were suffocating in debt and government should come up with a way to assist them.

“A lot of people are having serious problems and many of them are being sued for debts, which they cannot service owing to the poor state of the economy,” he said.

Many businesses, he said, were in serious debt with the city council and a lot of them were struggling to stay afloat.

“The majority of conventional businesspeople spend a lot of time defending in courts — defending debts which are not serviceable,” Ncube said.

“We are saying as BEEF, all those people who are affected should come to us.

“We want to prepare a paper, which we are going to give to government requesting that their debts be waivered or that they be given reasonable payment plans.”

He said he hoped that the spirit of the new government would be to see businesses being resuscitated and everyone going back into business.

“And we are saying as long as people are still spending a lot of time defending those debts, it is not going to work and we are appealing to government to say, as government, yes we agree that people owe,” Ncube added.

“We are not condoning non-payment of debts, but we are saying can we have a way forward where those who are owed and those are owing can come together and map a way forward together.

“If things are going to go the way they are at the moment, it is going to defeat the new government’s spirit of resuscitating the economy.

“We are saying as BEEF, we are appealing to everyone to understand that we are now in a new government.

“We have to do things differently from what the old government was doing.”

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