During his inauguration on Thursday, President Robert Mugabe acknowledged the sorry state of industry in Zimbabwe, going as far as describing industry in Bulawayo as “a scrapyard”.
“Our cities are dying. Bulawayo was once a thriving industrial hub in the country, but now it has become a sorry industrial scrapyard,” he said.
It is heartening to note that at least Mugabe is accepting the reality that industry in this country is literally dead. What remains to be seen is what his new government is going to do about it. All his previous governments did nothing, hence the sorry state of our industry.
Mugabe’s governments since he came into power in 1980 concentrated too much on politics and self-enrichment at the expense of industry and its development.
There has been shameless looting by Mugabe’s close political allies who got away with murder, as it were, in broad daylight. The results are there for everyone to see, a dead industry resulting in the suffering of the majority.
There has been too much concentration on protecting “the boys and girls” in Mugabe’s inner circle to the detriment of development. Genuine businesspeople who had the nation at heart, but were not linked to Zanu PF found it very difficult or impossible to operate businesses in this country.
Those in power were slowly, but surely and shamelessly eating into thriving companies. We had thriving companies such as Zisco, Zupco, National Railways of Zimbabwe, Cold Storage Commission, Grain Marketing Board and Arda, among others, which were directly consumed by politicians in government during that time. Nothing was done about it. Not even a single big fish was punished.
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Many private companies went under because of either poor government policies or poorly implemented government policies. But the major problem is the way government officials and ministers have been protected.
Corruption among top officials has become a way of life and so has impunity. As long as Mugabe continues to turn a blind eye to such vices, industry will continue to deteriorate from “scrapyard” to nothing.
The situation is made worse by what we call “investors”—a bunch of guys who did not inject capital, but who came with cheap, finished goods. This is not what the country needs at all.
The country needs serious investors even if they come on a 49%:51% basis. Investors are not people who sell us secondhand underwear and fake vehicle parts.
What this entails is the President’s change of attitude towards those who destroy businesses in this country. He should make sure that the corrupt and incompetent leave government, otherwise there won’t soon be any industry to talk about.
He should make sure that only genuine investors according to stipulated policy are allowed into the country.
If the new government continues from where the previous ones left off, our industry will go from scrap to zero and the consequences, even for the looters, will be ugly.