Byo’s two decades of decay

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Bulawayo has suffered systematic de-industrialisation over the past two decades that has seen large companies, particularly government parastatals, relocating to Harare despite the fact that Bulawayo enjoyed competitive advantage for such industries over the capital city, a government minister has said.

Economic Planning and Investment Promotion deputy minister Samuel Undenge told Parliament during a question-and-answer session that many companies had also closed down while others relocated to Botswana.

“Up to last year, 19 companies in the clothing sector, 64 in motor industry, three in the construction industry and one in the pharmaceutical industry, closed down. Some companies relocated to Botswana, thus exacerbating the problem,” Undenge said.

The minister said most industries in the country were operating at below capacity due to lack of working capital, reduced markets, lack of skilled manpower, power outages and high production costs.

He was responding to a question by Nkulumane MP Thamsanqa Mahlangu who wanted to know what was being done to boost Bulawayo industries.

Undenge said industrial activity in all major cities of the country had been affected and that all sub-sectors had been operating far below capacity.

“With the introduction of multiple currencies in 2009, all companies had to start from zero in their working capital requirements and were therefore affected in that they did not have these currencies. There were no lines of credit to cover the gap at that time,” said Undenge.

Bulawayo used to be the industrial hub of Zimbabwe with around 75% of manufacturing activity centred there.