Revive businesses: MBF

The Manicaland Business Forum has pleaded with President Robert Mugabe’s new government to take the recovery of Mutare’s industries seriously.

Tanganda Tea is one of many companies operating at below 10 percent capacity in Mutare.
Tanganda Tea is one of many companies operating at below 10 percent capacity in Mutare.

Industries here are now a shadow of their former selves, with the majority of factories reduced to empty shells.

Peter Makoni, the Chairman of MBF, last year handed over a position paper to Didymus Mutasa, the outgoing Presidential Affairs Minister, outlining the lack of action from the government to save the city. Makoni said the forum did not get any meaningful response.

A dire situation

“These ministries should come up with workable policies funded by money from the diamond revenue to avert socio-economic disaster in the province,” he said.

Makoni described the situation as dire, saying urgent intervention should be considered by the incoming government and private sector.

“It is sad that companies that were once household names are now history. The new government should now do something to resuscitate the industries in Mutare as a matter of urgency,” he said.

Some of the industries forced to shut up shop include Mutare Board and Paper Mills, Fusalite, Karina Textiles, Plate Glass, Zimbabwe Coffee Mill, Manica Boards and Mutare Engineers.

Others that are operating at below 10 percent capacity include Quest Motor Manufacturing, Cains Foods, Tanganda, Border Timbers, Manicaland Timber Merchants, The Wattle Company and Allied Timbers. These companies have dismissed hundreds of employees.

Driven out of business

Officials from the companies said a host of challenges such as under capitalisation, high production costs and competition from foreign products had driven them out of business.

Manicaland Timber Merchants Director, Rowan Butcher, said the future was bleak. Another industrialist, Farai Mukamba, said the Mutare Board and Paper Mills was nothing more than an empty shell.

“The eastern border city has been sustained by the forestry industry but almost every company dealing with timber has been pushed out of operation,” lamented Mukamba.

Quest Motors Corporation, one of the biggest car assemblers in Zimbabwe, has also fallen on hard times. The company’s director, Tarik Adam, said he hoped the incoming government would intervene.

“New cars are coming across the border from South Africa and these cars are being subsidised by the South African government. How can we compete with these companies when they have government subsidies? We need to protect our industries for our country’s future. Our government must intervene,” said Adam.

Need for transparency

The business community has blasted the Zimunya-Marange Community Share Ownership Trust saying it was not serving the interests of the business community.

“The Community Ownership Trust in Manicaland is a mystery to the citizens of the province. Not much is said about it and nobody has benefited from it,” said Brian Machingauta, a business analyst.

He said there was need for transparency in the diamond revenue and management of the Trust.

“We want an audience with the relevant ministries as a matter of urgency,” he added.

Post published in: Business

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