Business leaders in Bulawayo have lashed out at the Ministerial Taskforce to deal with the city’s industrial flight after they failed to attend a crucial breakfast meeting on the matter yesterday and described the move as highly contemptuous of the region.
Only two of eight ministers that make up the taskforce committee set up by Cabinet to deal with deindustrialisation of the city turned up for the meeting.
These were Welshman Ncube (Industry and Trade) and Samuel Sipepa Nkomo (Water Development and Management).
Bulawayo has reportedly lost 87 companies either through collapse or relocation to other cities, leaving about 20 000 people jobless.
Last month, the government was seized with the development and set up a ministerial taskforce to save the country’s former industrial hub and second-biggest city.
Yesterday’s meeting was meant to discuss the problem and map the way forward.
Other members of the taskforce are Finance minister Tendai Biti, Small and Medium Enterprise Development minister Sithembiso Nyoni, Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Agriculture minister Joseph Made, Labour and Social Welfare minister Pauline Mpariwa and Economic Planning minister Tapiwa Mashakada.
Ruth Libode, Southern Region president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries said the behaviour of the ministers was characteristic of the government’s attitude towards Bulawayo.
“I don’t think the taskforce understands and appreciates the importance of why Bulawayo must survive. I don’t think it’s in their best interest for Bulawayo to survive. You (ministers) needed to come as a team,” she said.
Fred Ndoro, an economic analyst said if Bulawayo industries were to be revived Cabinet had to intervene.
“I was hoping that we (businesses) will get feedback from the taskforce after the first meeting. I feel there is a big need for the Cabinet to be acting on what we said last time.
We would like Cabinet to come in as a partner in this,” he said.
Businessman Delma Lupepe said it was surprising that Bulawayo “issues” took time to be solved when in other regions Cabinet ministers were quick to react.