Industry and Commerce deputy minister Chiratidzo Iris Mabuwa has called on South African companies to come and invest in Bulawayo, particularly in the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) as it was key to the revival of the city’s industries.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Addressing delegates at the Investment and Trade Initiative meeting in Bulawayo yesterday, Mabuwa said, “There has been talk about the National Railways of Zimbabwe and its resuscitation. Bulawayo is the mouthpiece because it headquarters the NRZ. To this end, Bulawayo is saying while the NRZ is feeding the other arteries: what is it that it was doing for Bulawayo.”
She said the NRZ was providing for the development of an industrial base by the engineering, catering and clothing companies among others.
“Therefore, it is clear how the collapse of the NRZ took the oxygen off from many Bulawayo companies. Bulawayo is now connected to the international world by the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport which offers the business community direct and quick access to the international community but you will agree it would be very expensive to move the goods. Movement of personnel, yes it’s more efficient, but not the movement of goods,” Mabuwa said.
She, however, said even though the region has been hit hard by the economic decline it does not mean that there were no opportunities to exploit.
“The most important starting point in this region is the revival of NRZ. The NRZ is the lifeline of industry as it is the cheapest mode of transporting goods, bulk and non-perishable goods.
“The NRZ still exists, but operating at a very low capacity due to depleted infrastructure of locomotives that have outlived their economic lifespan. The investors are, therefore, invited to partner the NRZ through the establishment of joint ventures. Other investors may wish to finance its operations. It is, therefore, my hope that industry competitiveness would be regained and Bulawayo will come back to life.”
Mabuwa said the textile industry was once thriving in Zimbabwe employing more than 35 000 people, but was now employing only 3 000.