A SIX-MEMBER business delegation from South Africa is in Bulawayo scouting for business opportunities in the city and hinterlands during the ongoing 55th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).
The delegation, comprising of government officials and business community from Polokwane and Durban, yesterday met with Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo at the council chambers and expressed interest in investing in Bulawayo, particularly reviving some of the city’s collapsed factories which in the past few years have thrown more than 20 000 workers onto the streets.
Addressing the business delegation, Moyo said Bulawayo has a lot of opportunities and encouraged regional and international companies to come and invest in the city.
“Bulawayo is a sleeping giant (and) we have a lot of heavy industries which are now dormant. I hope you will keep your eyes open because there are lot of opportunities in the city. We have land which is lying idle, so come and put your factories up and start producing,” he said.
Moyo added that Bulawayo industries were bedevilled by the challenge of obsolete machinery with need for massive modernisation.
Dumile Cele, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry business services manager told Southern Eye Business that South African investors were more interested in sectors such as manufacturing and tourism.
“We have more interest on manufacturing, tourism, property development, steel manufacturing, arts and cultural construction,” he said.
She said there were many companies in South Africa that had developed interest on investing in Zimbabwe, particularly in Bulawayo.
Another delegate from Polokwane municipality Charles Molepo said they were most interested on small-to-medium enterprises and reviving the city’s industries.
“We are here to find out how Bulawayo is handling the issue of street traders and also to visit the industrial area to see where we can start trading,” he said.
“We need to promote industrial development to cater for the unemployed people.”
Other delegates include businesswoman Zama Phakathi, Thabele Mngomezulu (International government relations), Thulani Nzama (Business Support Unity at Thekwini), Segooa Moipone (manager for economic development and tourism).
Bulawayo is one of the cities in Zimbabwe 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.