THE Economic Planning and Investment Promotion ministry wants Bulawayo declared a special economic zone, to attract investors into the city that has witnessed a closure of many industries.
Speaking at the Bulawayo Publicity Association (BPA)’s 80th annual general meeting on Wednesday, minister Tapiwa Mashakada said the status will be similar to that of export processing zones.
“We are working on instruments to declare Bulawayo a special economic zone,” he said.
“We used to call it the export processing zone, but now the new terminology is economic, so I want to work on Bulawayo and give it a special economic zone status, so that we can introduce all the fiscal incentives to attract investors to this region.”
Mashakada said his ministry will plan to make Victoria Falls a free zone for banking and finance.
“The Finance ministry is also working on declaring Victoria Falls a free zone for banking and finance, so that banks can come in and set up freely to enable capital to move in.
“If that succeeds I think there will be many benefits accruing,” he said.
Mashakada said there was need for a strategic plan for Bulawayo.
“Something, which we will say in the next five or 10 years this is a strategic plan for Bulawayo. I know various business chambers will have their own strategic plans, but I am just saying Bulawayo as a whole, maybe the BPA could co-ordinate that so there is a strategic plan that will make us know the milestones we want to achieve in Bulawayo in the next five years.
“On my part, I have heard the message clearly. Investors should not end up in Harare, but in Bulawayo.
“I promise I will ensure that in the investment delegations and missions, we will also involve participants in Bulawayo,” Mashakada said.
He urged the BPA to promote Bulawayo ahead of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly to be co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia.
He pledged to partner the organisation in the drive.
“The challenge today is that Bulawayo could be five to 10 years behind other regional cities, but will have to run this distance in 12 to 24 months,” he said.