Gono calls for protests

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Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono yesterday told Bulawayo businesspeople to consider staging protests to force ministers and banks to speed up the disbursement of a fund meant to rescue the citys tottering industry.

Gonos remarks at a Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) breakfast meeting at a city hotel came amid growing anger over the perceived mishandling of the $40 million Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf).

The fund was set up last year primarily to rescue Bulawayo companies that have been forced to shut down over the years owing to grim economic conditions in the country.

Gono said businesspeople from the region must stop moaning about marginalisation and exclusion from the fund.

We should not just look up to the political leadership, he said.

I look to the day, Madam President (CZI Southern Region president Ruth Labode), where we will hear that you have gone on hunger strike at (Industry minister) Welshman Ncubes offices.

You could be at (Finance minister Tendai) Bitis offices while the CEO is at the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe president (John Mushayavanhu)s offices. Now that we know where the money is, why dont you go and occupy CABS? But you are busy here occupying yourselves.

Ncube chairs the Cabinet taskforce that recommended the setting-up of Dimaf.

Biti on Wednesday said $2 million had been disbursed under Dimaf with projects worth $3,4 million having been approved. The minister did not say whether the projects were in Bulawayo.

Gono said marginalisation was not only a problem for Matabeleland as other regions were also not getting an equal share of the national cake.

There is need for us to change our mindsets and take responsibility for the development of our regions in a manner that shows ownership, he said. This debate centring on the perceived or real feelings of a people marginalised has to be tackled head-on.

We shouldnt approach it from a totally political angle with the aim of winning votes at the next polls. It is a fact that our economic activity has been centred in Harare. The time has come to examine this skewed economic development in the country.

We have to identify the economic strength of each region.

President Robert Mugabe has sparked debate in Matabeleland after he rejected calls for devolution of power in the Constitution to address the grievance of marginalisation.

He said Zimbabwe was too small to be divided into small pieces.