Key economic stakeholders in Bulawayo have challenged Finance minister Tendai Biti to ensure funds for reviving distressed companies and completion of vital projects like the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project are given priority in next year’s Budget.
Biti was supposed to announce the Budget today, but had to postpone the event to next week because of President Robert Mugabe’s absence.
President Mugabe is reported to be in China after attending his daughter Bona’s graduation on Tuesday.
In separate interviews this week, the stakeholders said Matabeleland had received a raw deal in past Budget allocations.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) western region chairman, Reason Ngwenya, said the Budget should be geared towards employment creation through the revival of distressed companies in Bulawayo, once touted as the country’s industrial hub.
“Companies here must be boosted financially, not the lip service we have continued to get from the government,” Ngwenya said.
“Government must also allocate adequate funds to the social services particularly those that relate to the welfare of children, the disabled and the elderly.
“You realise that the unemployment rate is too high and those employed get low wages and cannot afford to take adequate care of the needy.”
Ngwenya said the Tripartite Negotiating Forum partners must work hard and come up with poverty datum line-linked salaries for workers because the majority of workers, particularly in government, were poorly paid.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association coordinator, Rodrick Fayayo, said the residents would like to see incomplete government projects being finalised.
“We have projects like Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, Ekusileni Hospital and the road networks linking the city,” he said.
“These are the things we need to think about and take seriously.”
“Industry in Bulawayo needs mouth-to-mouth resurrection.
“The government needs to show commitment or there is going to be legitimate a continuous feeling that marginalisation of the region is real.”