The Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf) has not been effective in reversing the collapse of Bulawayo industries because the mechanisms for its administration are flawed, Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube has said.
Ncube, who is also the chairman of the ministerial taskforce on Dimaf, was responding to sentiments made by Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust economist Rongai Chizema at a workshop in Bulawayo at the weekend, that the fund would remain a subject of “talk shows” unless it got legal standing and was included in the National
But Ncube said the problem with Dimaf was not an “allocation one”, but lack of priorities.
“Last year in the mid and end of term Budget policies, funds were availed through the Ministry of Finance and most of these did not benefit companies in Bulawayo,” he said.
“The other issue is the structures, for example, CABS Bank has been sitting on $10 million since April.”
Bulawayo, which has been affected by de-industrialisation, was supposed to be the prime beneficiary of Dimaf as part of efforts to restore the city to its status of being the country’s industrial hub. Chizema said the fund had no legal standing hence the problems dogging its administration.
“It does not have a legal framework that enables it to be contained in the budget statement, the Blue Book,” said Chizema.
“Dimaf is just a creation outside the fiscal framework. The Blue Book is an appropriation Act which the President appends his signature on for the allocation of funds.
“However, as it stands no one can be held accountable on Dimaf as it is administered outside the budget framework.
“We should be transparent and that means it should be included in the budget statement.”
In his presentation, Chizema urged the Bulawayo community to start making noise for Dimaf to be included in the budget statement.
“The fund is an appropriation challenge because where it’s being administered from, the banks, continue raising the stakes and throwing spanners into the whole process,” he said.
“Everything should be clarified and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce should have it as its vote in the Budget and administer the fund. As it is, the fund is in the market where it’s susceptible to vultures.”