THE AFFIRMATIVE Action Group (AAG) says it will petition President Robert Mugabe in a fortnight over a plethora of challenges besetting local businesses, particularly Bulawayo’s deindustrialisation.
In an interview on the sidelines of a business symposium held in Bulawayo yesterday, AAG national president Keith Guzah said they were working on creating a sectorial work organ to come up with a position paper on the problems affecting industry in Bulawayo in 14 days.
“Bulawayo has its unique problems and we are gathering data to come up with a petition seeking the intervention of the Office of the President. We are looking at submitting it in the next 14 days,” Guzah said.
Bulawayo is the most hit by deindustrialisation after recording close to 100 company closures last year.
More companies continue to downsize and some are relocating to other cities, leaving thousands of locals unemployed.
Closure of companies in Bulawayo has largely been attributed to shortage of working capital, erratic power supplies and high operation costs largely because of antiquated machinery and the high cost of labour.
Mugabe has previously equated Bulawayo to a big scrapyard with the continued massive de-industrialisation of the city.
But the AGG, which is strongly linked to Zanu PF, said it would not allow Bulawayo — the former industrial hub of the country — to die, hence the need to petition Mugabe on the myriad of challenges local companies are facing.
Guzah said while there was need for the manufacturing industry to be revived countrywide, Bulawayo was a special case and needed urgent attention.
“Rigorous investment promotion targeting Bulawayo-based companies will go a long way in restarting the manufacturing sector,” he said.
Guzah said the main thrust of the symposium was coming up with initiatives of attracting investment in the sectors of water and power generation.
Bulawayo has been hit by a perennial water crisis which has seen several companies relocating.
Bulawayo businesspeople who attended the symposium bemoaned the centralisation of governance, adding that it was slowing recovery of business in Bulawayo.
They said the government should address the centralisation of service as the processing of loans and procurement was done in Harare, which was unfair for business in Bulawayo and other towns.
Bulawayo was in the limelight in the past weeks following the just-ended Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries congress.
The congress resolved that Bulawayo must be urgently declared a special economic zone to attract investment to fund the recovery of industry.
Industry continues in the doldrums after capacity utilisation plunged to 39,6% from 44% recorded last year.
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