‘Industry revival to take years’

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The Minister of Industry and Commerce, Welshman Ncube, has said it will take years for Bulawayo industries to recover, as there were numerous challenges that needed to be overcome.

In an interview on Thursday at Mzinyathi High School in Umzingwane district, Ncube said a lot of work had to be done to revive Bulawayo back to its status as the industrial hub of the country.

“The challenges faced by Bulawayo industries are not something we can overcome in two, three, six months or even one year,” he said.

“We need long-term solutions as we need to reverse their closures and decline, thus creating a framework for them to start stabilising. This means we cannot begin to treat this as an overnight solution.”

Ncube said the challenges included finance injection into the industries and addressing the issue of skills deficiency.

“There is need for lines of credit such as long-term affordable finance to rehabilitate, install, commission, test-run and buy raw materials,” he said.

“There is the long standing Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) challenge, as there will always be load-shedding. Again, highly skilled people have left the country, leading to skills deficiency.”

Ncube said there was need for the country to regain its industrial competitive advantage such that the focal point became directed to sectors that would benefit and not strain the country.

“It is often better to concentrate on the textile and clothing sector as it has enough resources and a stronger foundation in the industry,” he said.

“In the industrial document that we are dealing with, we want to make sure that we focus on those sectors of the industry where we have competitive advantage.”

A total of 87 companies closed in Bulawayo last year. These comprised 19 in the clothing and textiles industry, 63 in the motor industry and three in the construction industry.

An unspecified number of others relocated to Harare or outside the country.
Hunyani Corrugated, Hunyani Packaging and Star Africa Corporation closed their Bulawayo operations and relocated to Harare.

Efforts are being made towards the resuscitation of the country’s industrial hub.

In May this year, Cabinet set up a seven-member ministerial task force committee chaired by Ncube to look at possibilities of reviving Bulawayo’s industrial sector that has virtually collapsed.