THE Bulawayo business community has pinned its hopes of reviving the sector currently reeling from disinvestment on the appointment of Phelekezela Mphoko as vice-president.
Mphoko was an active member of the business sector in the city as chairman of one of the fastest growing supermarket chains Choppies Zimbabwe and Bulawayo entrepreneurs believe that his hands-on knowledge of the challenges bedevilling Bulawayo’s business sector makes him better suited to address the problems.
Affirmative Action Group (AAG) Matabeleland chapter president Roy Sibanda told Southern Eye Business that his organisation was looking forward to Mphoko opening closed doors in business.
“The problem in Bulawayo has always been the leadership which we believe has been unable to take our problems and articulate them well in government,” Sibanda said.
“Now that we have a government leader who understands business here, we believe this challenge will be a thing of the past.
“Unemployment in the city is rife and to survive, people have turned to informal business, but our city bylaws enacted before independence keep them out of the central business district where the money is and that kills trade.
“There are many more challenges like access to capital, but for a start, business laws must be people-friendly considering that the environment has changed.”
Matabeleland Chamber of Industries president Busisa Moyo echoed the same sentiments saying Mphoko was a businessperson, rancher and farmer, who would quickly understand issues.
“Choppies is becoming a giant in the retail space under his leadership and if he can do that for a retail operation, we are confident he has the acumen to provide leadership in resuscitating industry across the board,” he said.
“We have a lot of hope and are positive that industry now has a go-to person who is from the region and we can focus on issues such as resuscitation of certain viable industrial concerns, special economic zones and economic value chain support.”
Moyo said the Matabeleland Chamber of Industries saw growth and immense potential for employment and economic activity.
He called for the VP to direct attention towards shedding the yoke of a victim mentality among businesspeople and the general public, demonstrating that Bulawayo has its place in the Zimbabwean economic landscape, is not a basket case and cannot be ignored in rebuilding a vibrant and prosperous Zimbabwe.
Other areas which Moyo cited for attention were delivering tangible and measurable “wins” like growth in employment statistics, industrial output, starting new infrastructure and construction projects, as well as completing projects that have been long outstanding.
“Key anchor projects we must deal with include; National Railways of Zimbabwe (specifically a functional and efficient railway corridor for bulk goods along the South Africa-Bulawayo-Lusaka-Ndola-Lubumbashi line), Cold Storage Company and Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (to spark an agrarian gold rush in crop farming and horticulture),” Moyo said.