Bureaucracy delays resuscitation of Bulawayo industries

Five months after government put into action plans to resuscitate industries in Bulawayo, pressure is mounting on authorities to release the $40 million fund set aside for the project.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti last month launched a $40 million fund for the revival of Bulawayo industries under the unity government’s Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund (DIMAF).

However on Wednesday Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube said companies in the second largest city will have to wait while government finalises ‘modalities’ of chandelling the funds.

Bulawayo was known as the hub of industry in Zimbabwe but in recent years almost 100 companies have closed shop, throwing over 20,000 workers into unemployment.

This put the coalition government under pressure to save the city, but bureaucracy has now been blamed for the lack of progress in the dispensation of funds.

Our Bulawayo correspondent, Lionel Saungweme, told us industrialists and business executives are complaining of a disturbing trend among some bureaucrats in Harare who tend to ‘sit’ on approved projects resulting in delayed implementation.

‘People here in Bulawayo are saying government often formulates and even budgets for several good-intentioned projects that could uplift the poor and create much needed employment.

‘They note however that excessive red tape results in many of these projects never taking off. There is genuine belief that if government can come up with a rescue package for Bulawayo, the revived industries would make Zimbabwe graduate into a genuinely vibrant economy,’ Saungweme said.

There have been accusations that the unity government has not been serious enough in reviving state-run industries and other businesses that have ultimately collapsed since 2009.

‘The business community in Bulawayo is arguing that no nation in the world has ever grown into an economic giant without investing heavily in the industrial sector.

‘While they accept $40 million is not good enough, they still appreciate efforts to get things started. But they are worried those efforts are taking long and contributing to the high unemployment rate,’ Saungweme added.

SW Radio Africa

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