Property auction reveals extent of Bulawayo’s decline

A public auction has revealed the extent of Bulawayo’s decline from an industrial giant into a backwater with properties worth millions attracting bids so low that it is feared a sheriff may not sanction them.

Sources Tuesday said auctioneers were still waiting for the sheriff’s reply to their report. But according to a Chronicle report on Monday auctioneer Michael Nekati hinted that ‘banks might reconsider financing some of the bidders’.

Held in a city hotel last weekend the auction was sanctioned by the Sheriff of the High Court to sell properties belonging to the city’s ailing firms over failure to service loans owed to banks.

The media was blocked from attending last Friday’s public auction, which was marred by drama as local activists stormed the event demanding to observe the proceedings. The Chronicle report said Nekati accused Affirmative Action Group (AAG) activists of disrupting the proceedings and seeking to ‘block’ the auction.

The AAG is lobbying for a temporary stoppage to litigations until the economy stabilizes. According to the report the auction finally went ahead with about four properties withdrawn after debtors made payment arrangements with creditors while some properties had no takers.

Bulawayo has seen a marked decline in investment in the last decade. Ahead of the July 31st election it was reported that at least 100 companies had closed due to under-capitalisation, leaving 20,000 people jobless.

At the time President Mugabe blamed the decline on the MDC, claiming that the then Finance Minister Tendai Biti was refusing to allocate enough funds towards the resuscitation of Bulawayo.

But former Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals, Gorden Moyo, told SW Radio Africa Tuesday that the decline was a result of a ‘deliberate policy to de-industrialise Bulawayo’ back dating to ‘way back in the 1980s’.

Moyo who is also an executive member of the MDC-T said the people of Bulawayo and Matabeleland were being ‘punished’ for persistently voting against ZANU PF since independence. Moyo warned that until ZANU PF was dislodged from power Bulawayo was going to end up under the full control of state agents as part of the government’s bid to build a ‘domineering state as opposed to a strong and unified nation’.

Moyo said the selling of properties at lower prices was indicative of ZANU PF’s success in destroying Bulawayo ahead of ‘a full takeover by state agents under the pretext of resuscitation’. – SW Radio Africa

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