Prosper Ndlovu, Business Editor
BULAWAYO Provincial Minister of State, Nomthandazo Eunice Moyo, has backed industry calls for Government to broaden the Special Economic Zones (SEZ)s implementation beyond leather and textile sectors.
While industrialists in the city have welcomed the granting of SEZ status to Bulawayo, they have openly rejected the initially proposed leather and textile tag saying the approach was narrow. Through the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), captains of industry have demanded that the whole of Bulawayo be declared an SEZ saying this would assist revival of the entire manufacturing sector.
Minister Moyo buttressed this perspective yesterday in an interview on the side-lines of a Zim-Asset II and investment policy consultative conference being held in Bulawayo by the Ministry of Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion.
“The idea of centralising things confuses people, who end up not knowing what is happening. It is good that certain projects have been identified in different provinces. We are saying we are happy for what they identified but we believe Bulawayo should be given a chance and be assisted to grow because Bulawayo has got a network already that used to provide good business activities in the process,” said Minister Moyo.
“So, what we think is that Bulawayo (SEZ) could be widened and not be just on leather and textiles. Though this is a milestone, Bulawayo has called for widening of focus on these so that we develop the city from a broader perspective.”
Once regarded as the manufacturing hub in the country before its demise in the face of a numerous challenges over the years, experts say Bulawayo industry could be revived again if given all the necessary support. Last week Business Chronicle hosted a pre-budget dialogue where delegates appealed to Government for a specific fund to assist revival of companies in Bulawayo. The adoption of the SEZ model is expected to help attract increased foreign direct investment through a package of incentives for designated zones.
Minister Moyo said Bulawayo needs increased infrastructure development and rehabilitation of industries through financing so that the services it offers can be of high standards. She said this task also requires engagement of qualified people in the community who can push the industry development agenda.
Earlier in her address Minister Moyo said the investment promotion programmes should prioritise revitalisation of strategic firms like the National Railways of Zimbabwe and the Cold Storage Company, who have the potential of energising development on downstream companies.
She also said more energy should be dedicated to reviving the clothing industry, which used to be among the biggest employers in the city.
“We seem to be suppressing that industry (clothing) yet we have a problem of financial outflows with people importing yet we have got those industries here and they closed down because there is too much that is going on that is not in support of those industries. Let’s get to talk about those issues,” said Minister Moyo.
“I feel the issue of water and electricity must also take priority in Bulawayo because without these our industry cannot rise. And of course new machinery so that we match the world standards. Our factories are using old machines that are costly. Something you can produce in a day you produce in a week or month and that is expensive.”
Article Source: The Chronicle