RENOWNED economist Erich Bloch has predicted that Bulawayo’s depressed industrial sector will recover if Wednesday’s harmonised elections are credible.
In an economic overview of Matabeleland, Bloch said although Zimbabwe’s economy in general was poised for growth after the polls due to increased investor interest in the country, Bulawayo had brighter prospects for a rebound.
Bulawayo, once the country’s industrial hub, has been the hardest hit by economic recession that began over a decade ago because it had bigger manufacturing operations in number and in size, than elsewhere in Zimbabwe.
However, Bloch said there were “pronounced, well-founded, justifications for expectations that Zimbabwe’s industrial sector will benefit from a progressive, considerable, upturn, after the forthcoming ‘harmonised’ national elections, and that will be especially so in respect of manufacturing in Bulawayo”.
The veteran economist said there were many foreign investors watching political developments in the country.
“There are many non-Zimbabwean investors poised to invest in Zimbabwe as soon as they consider that there is enhancement in investment security and opportunity (despite electioneering protestations to the contrary).
It is highly probable that the prevailing Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment laws and policies will be constructively modified,” Bloch said.
“In like manner, they are pronounced actions that, progressively, international funding will be forthcoming to the banking sector, enabling facilities available to the industrial (and other) sectors, at reasonable, internationally-related rates.”
Bloch said his predictions were based on “numerous interactions” with leaders of major political parties who all promised constructive policy changes in respect of parastatal services and indirect taxation policies and rates.
“Industry in Bulawayo will be beneficiated not only by the aforegoing, but also by many other positive factors,” he said.
Bloch said the factors included the government’s intention to declare Bulawayo as a “special economic zone”, with taxation and other benefits.
He said despite the large-scale closure of industries, Bulawayo still had a very extensive and fully operative industrial infrastructure.
“Much of the growth in the mining sector is occuring in Matabeleland and the Midlands, and hence Bulawayo will be a key supplier to that sector and to its attendant communities,” Bloch said.
“Bulawayo is one of Zimbabwe’s two major tourism gateways and, as the tourism sector develops and grows, so will demand from that sector for input supplies from Bulawayo.
“The prolonged water-supply problems that have hindered Bulawayo’s operations for many years are now being constructively, relatively and rapidly addressed.
“Bulawayo remains a key rail, road and international air junction, highly facilitative for exports throughout the region and further afield,” he added.
But Bloch warned that total recovery and subsequent growth of Bulawayo’s economy will only develop progressively over an extended period of time. He said the “progressive recovery will contribute to enhancement of trade on an ongoing and escalating basis”.
Twitter feedback @mudarikirig