BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) says investors have shown a lot of interest to invest in Bulawayo and help restore the city to its status as the country’s manufacturing hub.
Once the country’s industrial hub, Bulawayo, has suffered chronic de-industrialisation effects over the past two decades, with over 100 firms — mostly in the manufacturing, textile and clothing sector — closing down and leaving thousands of workers jobless.
In his report presented during the CZI Matabeleland Chamber annual general meeting held in Bulawayo last week, the chapter’s out-going president Joseph Gunda said the story was about to change as investors were keen to invest in the city.
“It is very much hoped that regardless of the difficult economic conditions being experienced in the economy, there is a silver lining on that dark cloud,” Gunda said.
“I am very hopeful that on the back of implementation of special economic zones there are good prospects of economic improvement in spite of the existing levels of uncertainty and challenges.”
“There has been a lot of interest shown by investors who could help in turning around the fortunes of Bulawayo, and help restore it to its original status as the hub of manufacturing in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Gunda said the last quarter of 2018 into the first quarter of 2019 was a very difficult period for most industries as allocations of forex from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe dried up, resulting in a lot of manufacturing companies failing to import raw materials.
“This acute shortage of foreign currency resulted in companies failing to meet demand, and this triggered panic buying and distortion in prices of basic commodities, a situation that precipitated profiteering by some traders, in particular, to the detriment of consumers and our image as a business membership organisation,” he said.
Gunda said other challenges that have continued to prevail in the Matabeleland chamber included the high cost of doing business, a sharp liquidity crisis, and reduced consumer spending per capita, threat of smuggled goods, import permit restrictions on raw materials, high borrowing costs and short-term structures on funding.