Mayor vows to deal with Byo industrialisation

BULAWAYO - Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni will from today (Wednesday) embark on a two-day programme to tour the city’s dilapidated industrial sites with the view of having first-hand information of the crisis on the ground.

This, the mayor said, will see the city fathers coming up with a position paper which will support ailing industries by courting investors back to the city.

“I have taken a deliberate policy to tour manufacturing companies in Bulawayo with a view to getting first-hand information on the challenges faced by industry in Bulawayo,” Mguni said.

“As you know that Bulawayo was once the industrial hub of Zimbabwe, we want to hear from industry what they think we can do for them as a city so that they remain viable,” he said.

The city fathers’ industrial site tour slated for Thursday and Friday will include council management and the business committee chaired by ward 7 councillor Shadreck Sibanda.

A plethora of government programmes purportedly to revive Bulawayo’s collapsed manufacturing industry in the past two decades has all turned out to be nothing but cheap politicking as the reality on the ground speaks of a totally different story.

Government has in the past introduced facilities such as the Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf) and the Zimbabwe Economic Trade Revival Facility to help companies recapitalise.

However, most of the companies that got money from Dimaf remained in doldrums as the loans were of a short-term nature, very small and had punitive interest rates. Some have pinned their hopes on the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) initiative for possible economic revival of the city.

Companies have gone under due to the absence of affordable long-term capital for retooling, influx of cheap imported products and water and electricity shortages.

The problem of deindustrialisation has seen tall grass and bushes growing while rust has taken over some of the abandoned equipment. This, however, has become the new home to worship centres, which have since taken over the once busy sites.

Some of the churches that have taken over buildings of companies in the city include Emmanuel Makandiwa’s United Family International Church, which took over a building of one of the city’s biggest textile companies, Textile Mills, which employed hundreds of workers during its days.

Also occupying the Thorngrove industrial area is Blessing Chiza’s Eagle Life Assembly.

Controversial South Africa-based self-styled prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church is also part of the many churches in the Belmont industrial site.

But the new mayor, a lawyer by profession, is confident that after the tour some of the challenges of deindustrialisation of the city will be a thing of the past.

“The tour resonates well with the pledge that I made in my inaugural speech on September 7, 2018, that I want to make Bulawayo a component of a functional state. So, the business and investment committee is keen on getting information that will drive our investment drive in the next five years,” Mguni said.

He further noted that it was the local authority’s intention to implement the SEZ concept as part of the city’s revival strategy.

“Soon after the tour, as a city we will then come up with a position paper on supporting ailing industry by courting investors back to Bulawayo for those who had closed shop or contemplating such a move. We are serious about bringing fresh capital from within and from outside Zimbabwe.”

Confidently, the 35-year-old mayor said “as a council of young energetic team and with a fair share of technocrats in our midst, we want to do things differently to attract investment”.

He added: “We are blending politics and business for a democratic social developmental agenda.”

Comments (2)

Blah, blah, blah!!! He will first have to go after the real cause of the city's deindustrialisation. Put simply; the problem is due to the former Mugabe regime's and current administration's marginalisation of Matebeleland strategies!

Essexvale - 31 October 2018

Byo is not the only city in the world to got through that phase. We are building a city without smoke....intuthu kayimelanga ithunqe , isikhathi sesadlula , la lapho ekulabantu e.g eateries , emitshoveni , ekareni elabantwana oyise kabamelanga be bheme ugwayi. - A city that will have more than 100000 people earning more than us$25K in 7 years time...with the healthiest population in Africa in the most clean city in the continent.

Earl of Matopos - 3 November 2018

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