Government will on Friday convene a meeting here to help cover damages suffered by business in Bulawayo during the fuel price hike riots, with the destruction caused by protesters described as a catastrophe for the economy.
After surveying the damage in the second city last month, the inter-ministerial committee pledged a US$20 million relief fund for the resuscitation of the affected businesses in the second capital.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa set up the inter-ministerial committee that was led by Industry and Commerce minister
Mangaliso Ndlovu to come up with a proposal on how government can assist the business community that was affected by the recent violent protests. After holding briefings at Mhlahlandlela government offices last month, the committee proceeded to tour affected businesses mainly in the western suburbs of the city.
An estimated $20 million potential revenue was lost as a result of the shutdown. Total preliminary property loss was $19,5 million, with Entumbane worst hit at $4 million loss, Lobengula next with $3,5 million loss, with over 150 shops affected. Vendors were also adversely affected.
Ncube said yesterday only businesses that tendered genuine submissions during the assessment of the damage are set to benefit from the emergency relief loans to be availed by government.
The minister told the Daily News that logistics for the disbursement of the funds are set to be finalised by the end of this week.
“This is still pending; details will be finalised by the end of the week. A breakfast meeting where the relief loans will be the main topic of discussion is going to be held at the ZITF on Friday (tomorrow),” he said. “Funding will only be made available for those individuals that made their submissions during the assessments by the inter-ministerial committee.
“They are the ones we believe presented a genuine picture.
“It is likely that some might just want to benefit upon realising that there are funds available. “The MDC has largely been blamed by government and Zanu PF for instigating the violent protests that destroyed a bulk of businesses in Bulawayo’s western suburbs.
During last month’s tour by the inter-ministerial committee which was led by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube in the city, Zanu PF politburo member Absolom Sikhosana said it was unfair for government to be expected to channel funds towards the resuscitation of the destroyed businesses, noting that the orchestrators of the violence should pay.
Yesterday, Ndlovu said the loans would be disbursed in a non-partisan fashion. “I don’t think there is any member of a political party that is benefiting from this funding but businesses that genuinely lost property during the violent protests,” he said.
Mnangagwa’s announcement of a more than 100 percent fuel price hike in January saw violent protests erupting in Bulawayo.
A damage cost of $19,5 million was recorded from the 181 shops and other business entities that were visited by the inter-ministerial committee, and that figure is reportedly inclusive of stock lost, equipment and property damaged.
Industrialists estimate that the economy could have lost business amounting to $300 million over the three-day forced shut-down.
Companies and individuals who lost their property due to the protests suffered financial challenges as insurance firms do not compensate destruction incurred from riots.
Ordinary businesses were largely targeted by the violent mobs, resulting in the loss of goods, income, jobs and shops that were vandalised. Thousands of police, military security and firefighters responded to the violent protests in a nearly one-to-one ratio with the thousands of protesters that rallied on the streets in Bulawayo and cities across Zimbabwe.
Hundreds of shops and public facilities were prevented from opening, with several shops looted, some set on fire. In his presentation before the committee last month, town clerk Christopher Dube said the city’s infrastructure was damaged while service delivery was adversely disrupted during the three-day protests.
Dube said the protests were the primary cause of the 48-hour water-shedding regime that the local authority had since implemented, due to the destruction of critical water pumping equipment. He said the city council was affected through damage to road furniture, traffic signs, traffic lights, City Hall benches, and kerbings.
There was also damage to road markings while the damage to road pavements included burning of carriageway surfacing or road tarmac and damage to surfacing resulting from the removal of kerbing.
There was damage to schools and health facilities experienced in some areas.Looted Byo businesses to get loans.