The main political parties in the Matabeleland region are reportedly at each other’s throats claiming credit for the $40 million government rescue package recently unveiled to save Bulawayo’s dwindling industrial base.
Each of the three political parties in the coalition government — Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC — has reportedly claimed credit for initiating the bailout seeking to resuscitate collapsed industries as well as curbing industrial flight from the region.
The heated campaign comes against a background of possible elections next year, with each party fighting to gain political mileage using the programme as one of their success stories.
Government recently unveiled a $40 million industrial rescue package for Bulawayo and surrounding areas following reports 87 firms had closed shop over the last few years citing viability problems.
However, Treasury has reportedly not yet released the cash injection.
Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South provinces have of late been touted as major hunting grounds for Zimbabwean politicians.
Addressing a recent party meeting in Bulawayo, Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo claimed credit for initiating the region’s re-industrialisation programme, adding his party was “people-oriented”.
“The land reform programme is from us, indigenisation is from us and the resuscitation of Bulawayo industries was started in the
movement,” Khaya Moyo claimed.
He claimed senior Zanu PF members held various meetings to discuss de-industrialisation of the city and later sought President Robert Mugabe’s intervention in an effort to rescue the country’s second largest city.
“The President made sure that the resuscitation of the industry would take place and took the matter to Cabinet. He then appointed a taskforce leading to the availing of the $40 million for the resuscitation of industry,” said Khaya Moyo.
“Those who are now claiming that they own the project (re-industrialisation) have never been in the war of liberation and cannot be our economic fighters. We have people who, after we have killed and slaughtered a beast, come and demand liver. ”
But, the Welshman Ncube-led MDC disputed Zanu PF claims, accusing the party of plundering the country’s economy over the last 31 years.
MDC provincial spokesperson Edwin Ndlovu said it was “shocking that Khaya Moyo would make such claims yet it is Zanu PF that presided over the demise of industries in Bulawayo”.
“Khaya Moyo should be the last person to say that. We understand that he once served as Minister of Industry and Commerce under Zanu PF. How then can they have a policy for re-industrialisation?” queried Ndlovu.
He said Khaya Moyo’s claims were “like a father who has not been able to get his wife pregnant for more than 25 years and now wants to claim paternity to a young child”.
“He (Khaya Moyo) is trying to gain mileage in what he did not work for,” said Ndlovu. “They are masters of grandstanding, especially claiming glory over things they did not contribute to.”
MDC-T deputy spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo accused Khaya Moyo and Zanu PF of “political pickpocketing”.
“I am flabbergasted, if not disappointed, with what Khaya Moyo is saying,” Khumalo said.
“Basically common sense should tell him his party is the one that destroyed industry in Bulawayo because they were in power when the city suffered from de-industrialisation. In fact, they should be giving Finance minister Tendai Biti a pat on the back for unveiling the funds. What we should be discussing now is how that money can be distributed.”
Bulawayo mayor Thaba Moyo told NewsDay last week the funds would go a long way in reviving other downstream industries, thereby generating employment.