BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
THE Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe (IDCZ) says it is scaling up the search for a suitor to bolster operations at its flagship fertiliser production unit, Chemplex Corporation.
In an interview with NewsDay Business, IDCZ spokesman Derek Sibanda Chemplex was one of several firms that the IDCZ had earmarked for partnership.
“We are also targeting co-development partners in our Special Economic Zones projects to build a high technology park, medical tourism park, dry port and a regional shopping mall, among other projects,” he said.
Sibanda added: “The Chemplex Corporation Limited fertiliser chain needs about US$6,5 million forex allocation via the auction system or letters of credit supported by Zimbabwe dollar facilities per month as working capital to ensure that the country’s fertiliser needs are adequately met. The ammonium nitrate fertiliser production requires US$2,7 million per month.
“The IDCZ is in the process of identifying technical and industry players as potential equity partners in Deven Engineering, Willowvale Motor Industries and Chemplex Corporation Limited in order to retool, refurbish, modernise productive capacity and increase capacity utilisation.”
Sibanda said the IDCZ should be funded to the tune of US$500 million to help it make crucial interventions across sectors under its refreshed mandate to industrialise the economy.
It is a big mandate to rebuild industries that axed about 500 000 jobs since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out last year as markets suffered under severe lack of disposable incomes.
In its report titled Zimbabwe Economic Update (ZEU): Overcoming Economic Challenges, Natural Disasters, and the Pandemic: Social and Economic Impacts, the World Bank last week said COVID-19 had affected both rural and urban jobs by almost equal measure, with 7,9 million ending up in abject poverty.
This figure represented about 49% of Zimbabwe’s estimated 15 million people, and exerts more pressure on the IDCZ to find resources required to turn around the economy.
Prior to the loss of 500 000 jobs, 4 600 companies between 2011 and 2013 threw over 55 000 workers out of work.
While the industrial bloodbath has continued over the years, last year’s COVID-19 explosion aggravated a dire crisis when hard lockdowns rolled out by government closed markets and hammered spending power.
But even before the scourge ended, more deadly policies were announced, with government introducing far-reaching reforms where transgressors would be liable to penalties of $1 million.