Bulawayo businesses set their eyes on new Cabinet

Obert Mpofu

THE Bulawayo business community is eagerly awaiting the announcement of President Robert Mugabe’s new Cabinet to gauge Zanu PF’s seriousness in addressing problems that have been bedevilling the second largest city, which has seen several firms collapsing due to the prevailing harsh economic environment.

Gamma Mudarikiri

Several other firms are listed in critical condition citing a severe liquidity crunch.

According to official statistics, 84 companies closed shop last year while an additional 64 were said to be on the verge of collapse.

Last week a firm owned by Obert Mpofu, the outgoing Mines and Mining Development minister, retrenched about 70 employees as a result of the liquidity crisis.

In an interview with Southern Eye, Association of Business in Zimbabwe (Abuz) chief executive officer Lucky Mlilo said most business deals were temporarily on hold in the post- election era with potential investors adopting a wait-and-see attitude as the waited for Mugabe to unveil his new Cabinet.

“We are waiting for the announcement of new ministers so that we start knocking at their doors concerning initiatives to resuscitate Bulawayo” Mlilo said.

“Business will continue on a wait-and-see attitude until a new cabinet is announced,” he added.

Mlilo said the business community had adopted a wait-and-see attitude from March when the country had a referendum which has continued until the post-election era adding that this has been slowing business down.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) will next month hold its annual congress in Bulawayo.

This year’s congress scheduled to run between October 9 and 11, will be held under the theme “Imperatives for reversing deindustrialisation”.

Initially, the CZI congress was supposed to have been held in July, but was pushed to October to pave way for the harmonised elections.

Early this year, former CZI president Kumbirai Katsande warned that the capacity utilisation of most firms was expected to further plunge due to Bulawayo’s deindustrialisation.

According to CZI manufacturing sector survey, industry reduced its capacity utilisation to 44% from 57% as of June this year, as it continues to face a myriad of challenges including subdued foreign direct investments, limited long-term loans and huge energy deficit, among other things.

Capacity utilisation for the manufacturing sector has been on an upward trend since 2009 from 10% to 57, 2% in 2011 and then it started to contract to 44,2% in 2012.
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