Dube hints at GNU
BULAWAYO – In a statement that is likely to attract mixed feelings within the Zanu PF family, former War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube has hinted on a government of national unity with the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC while also appealing to Zimbabweans to give President Emmerson Mnangagwa a five-year term as leader of the country.
Speaking to journalists after news filtered that he had beaten his two competitors in the hotly-contested Makokoba constituency primary elections, the elated Dube said he was convinced that his boss had the capacity to lift the country out of its current quagmire.
“Zimbabweans are expending too much energy on politics, instead of focusing on the economy to better the lives of our long-suffering countrymen. It is also my wish that we engage with the dynamic young man, the president of the MDC — Nelson Chamisa — to come on board so that we unite our people and make sure that instead of channelling our energy into politics, we also concentrate on our economy,” he said.
While he remained confident that Mnangagwa will sail through in the forthcoming elections, Dube said his boss will need someone to assist him.
“If . . . Mnangagwa continues with his policies and gets a good someone to assist him, this country in 10 years will not be a third world country but a first world country. Instead of focusing on politics, we need to be focusing on improving our health delivery system, our education and our welfare among others. Let us give him (Mnangagwa) a chance for the next five years to create jobs for our people,” he said.
Dube added that it was time people voted for capable politicians and not opportunists.
“I am very happy that I have won, but my biggest wish is that all Zimbabweans rally behind Mnangagwa so that he can implement his economic policies for the betterment of the country. If we miss this opportunity of supporting Mnangagwa to change our country’s fate, I think we will never have it again,” he said.
Dube said it was time for politicians to focus on building the economy rather than concentrating on politics as has been the culture during former president Robert Mugabe’s administration.
Construction of Nust flats in new twist
BULAWAYO – The Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ)’s bid to construct a block of flats to accommodate students from the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) in Selborne Park and Matsheumhlope low density suburbs has remained shrouded in controversy as the conflict has taken a new twist with the bank’s boss being accused of “lying.”
The $12 million student accommodation project was last year commissioned by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, in a move that raised dust among the agitated residents who felt that the pegged area was a commercial area hence it could not be availed for residential purposes.
The residents swiftly appealed to their councillor, Silas Chigora, to ensure the project does not get off the ground, arguing Nust had some underutilised tracts of land which IDBZ could tap into.
The residents argued this was going to result in loitering, littering, surge in noise levels, thereby turning the low density areas into high density equivalents, in the process disturbing the peace.
IDBZ infrastructure projects director Desmond Matete this week told Southern News that the conflict had been sorted out and they were preparing to begin construction, a move that was immediately dismissed by the councillor and residents.
“All the issues have been resolved,” Matete said.
“There were some things we needed to address from our side and then there were things that needed to be addressed from the city council side, so we sat down on a number of occasions in respect of how to handle some of the objections from the residents.
“So we at one point met the representatives of the residents and explained in detail what we intend to do and what kind of infrastructure we will be putting in place.
So after all these consultations, we are all now on the same plate and works should start in the next few weeks,” he said.
Matete said they were now ready to roll.
“The concerned residents had to be assured on a number of things and we are ready to roll.”
Residents chair Huseni Sibanda said they were not happy with the way the city fathers had conducted themselves in the whole matter.
“We are really not happy. The situation is we were shocked that the city council was not being honest and straight forward with us,” he said.
“We had letters of objection from the council that were sent only to ten residents and most of the letters were received way after the objection date had expired. As you are aware that before any construction takes place one needs consent from residents and these were the letters that we think the council has a case to answer. Why did council rush the whole process,” Sibanda told Southern News.
He also accused the council of not reporting back to residents on the progress of the matter.
Sibanda, however, said the whole matter has left them with no option but to take the legal route over the matter.
“As residents, we have decided to take a legal route. We are already in consultations with our lawyers because we can’t have this happening in our own backyard. Why is the council taking interest in IDBZ instead of its rate payers, the residents?” fumed Sibanda.
He was, however, quick to say while they were interested in development, it should come through proper means. “This is good development that is being thrown in the wrong place, simple.”
Councillor Chigora, however, accused Matete of misleading the nation.
“IBDZ is not telling the public the truth. What I remember is that its delegation comprising its CEO (Thomas Zondo Sakhala) sought residents’ input and a meeting was arranged with the residents committee where it was pointed to them that the development must happen inside Nust not outside as this was tantamount to turning Selbourne, Riverside and Matsheumhlope low density suburbs into high density locations,” Chigora told Southern News.
He added: “The development is bringing more than 1 000 students at one place and one wonders why Nust is being sabotaged as this is taking away its mandate of providing accommodation to students.”
Chigora said residents were bitter with IBDZ after it allegedly went behind their back and applied to the city council using another company name.
“The objection letters were not received by abating property owners. In the first place, why did this company continue to apply when it had heard residents’ concerns and after they had agreed to look for alternative land that is not in the middle of a suburb?
“Residents were short-changed and are bitter to the extent that they are prepared to lodge an appeal with the minister on why Nust is being sabotaged this way,” fumed Chigora.
“On completion, the Nust project is expected to accommodate 1 480 students. The students’ accommodation project will be delivered through a special purpose vehicle, which was registered early this year and is wholly-owned by the IDBZ.
Byo de-industrialisation, ZITF success juxtaposed
BULAWAYO – The 59th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade (ZITF) was by far the largest in decades both in terms of attendance by local and foreign exhibitors as well as the business activity.
Not only did those who exhibited feel the difference but the organisers too who concluded that the country’s premier trade showcase was over-subscribed.
A total of 18 countries were being represented this year, including first timer — the United Arab Emirates — while local participation has also increased.
Close to 500 direct exhibitors participated this year, about 40 percent higher than last year’s closing total of 356 direct exhibitors, and 30 percent higher than last year.
ZITF also recorded a 25 percent increase in the number of new local exhibitors.
The show ran under the theme: “Sustainable Industrial Development — Inclusive, Competitive, and Collaborative.”
In recent years, China and South Africa used to dominate the fair but despite President Emmerson Mnangagwa having clinched mega deals, particularly with China, the Asian country was not visible at the fair. As for South Africa, they only managed to send a few companies.
While a lot can be said about the historical success of the ZITF, the same cannot be said about the host city’s industrial case, where industries have remained in dire straits with pentecostal churches continuing to dominate the Belmont, Kelvin and Thorngroove industrial sites and where vending and informal trade has become common sight owing to a high rate of unemployment.
Talk of a city which was once proud of what looked like its permanent prestige founded on its phenomenal tag as an industrial hub.
While State firms such as the struggling Cold Storage Company (CSC) and the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) in particular, painted a different picture with large exquisite exhibition at the fair, outside they have a well-known record of poor performance.
Economist Prosper Ndlovu said while government was buoyed by the significant response to the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra which might have led to a huge turnout at ZITF, it should be noted that local industry deserved attention.
“Yes, we might talk of the ZITF having been successful but the most important question is how did it help re-industrialise Bulawayo which is now a laughing stock in the country?” he asked.
“The government should explain to us how the Trade Fair as an institution has helped the second largest city in terms of rebuilding and reviving our once-thriving industries. There is need for clear pointers, tangible and sustainable results from such events as the ZITF.”
Economist Reginald Shoko said the huge turnout was as a result of the confidence brought by the new political dispensation.
“The large numbers at the fair this year can be attributed to the re-engagement efforts of government and the current positive perspective the country is carrying out in the global village,” Shoko said.
“But the limited exhibition by Bulawayo companies is a reflection of the state of industry, the trade fair must benefit Bulawayo beyond the business that comes with hosting it, otherwise it will be like other traditional events.
The ZITF must consider being an active player in the efforts of the re-industrialisation of Bulawayo.
“It’s great seeing the battles back at the fair but the sad state of CSC which must be revived for the development of the economy of Bulawayo. The new dispensation is making efforts of transforming Zimbabwe from a political advancing country to the equilibrium balance between politics and economics through re-engagement.”
Zapu spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa said the turnout at the Trade fair starkly contrasted with developments in the city’s industrial story.
“The over-subscribed trade fair edition is cosmetic, especially considering that Bulawayo has literally become a residence city following de-industrialisation of the city over the years.”
“Zanu PF’s policies and lack of them has seen industries close in Bulawayo, with some relocating to Harare in a systemic and institutionalised marginalisation agenda by the Zimbabwean government,” Maphosa said.
He added: “So, there is really not much we can read from the crowds at ZITF 2018 because the majority of the exhibitors were from outside Bulawayo.
“The picture is in sharp contrast with the real situation on the ground. Even the struggling parastatals, whose exhibitions were of high quality and standards while failing to pay workers for years on end, were sponsored by the failing government to portray a false picture of success.”
In his address while officially opening the ZITF, Mnangagwa appeared to have no clue on how to bring back Bulawayo to its feet reminiscent to its golden days as he appealed to the equally struggling businesses to up their game so as to promote economic growth.
“Sustainable economic growth will be achieved by us together, government, the private sector and foreign investors, my administration will consistently engage with all stakeholders to further improve the business operating environment,” Mnangagwa said.
He added: “Our resolve to attract foreign direct investment is re-engagement, partnership, attract Diaspora remittances and promote export productivity will ultimately result in a growing economy and translate into improved liquidity of foreign currency, our humility.”
Government has in the past introduced facilities such as the Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf) and the Zimbabwe Economic Trade Revival Facility to help companies recapitalise.
However, most of the companies that got money from Dimaf remained in doldrums as the loans were of a short-term nature, very small and had punitive interest rates.
Some have pinned their hopes on the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) initiative now led by former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono for possible economic revival of the city.
This comes after Bulawayo was one of the few chosen for implementation of the SEZs that have been touted as a key pillar in attracting foreign direct investment and creation of employment.
In reference to Bulawayo, Mnangagwa challenged local business to play their part on taking up the opportunities that the government has made available through various policy instruments.
“Let me take this opportunity to urge Bulawayo to take advantage of its special economic zone status to emerge as the industrial cultural and conferencing hub. I implore the local community to think big and not think small. Think big about the immense potential that is abound in this beautiful city of kings and queens.”
In his bid to resuscitate local companies, Mnangagwa cited the commencement at Shangani Gwayi dam which is set to supply water to the second largest city as well as the revival of the NRZ as some of the major developments his government is spearheading.
“Meanwhile, the construction of Gwayi-Shangani Dam has resumed in earnest following the budgetary allocation and is expected to increase water supply and availability in the region.
“Resuscitation of NRZ is on course and its partnership with the Diapora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG), it is pleasing that the relationship is already yielding positive results and increased capacity utilisation that will drastically reduce the movement of bulk cargo both internally and in ports.”
Of sex workers, ZITF exhibition
BULAWAYO – When news broke out that sex workers were exhibiting at the just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), many felt that the fair had been turned into a joke while others felt that it was a sign that indeed Zimbabwe was open for business.
In reality, these were not sex workers parading their bodies or marketing themselves but these were people advocating for health and safety tips about sex workers while educating people that sex work was a job like any other which deserves respect.
A visit to the stand during the fair, however, proved otherwise, as the sex workers stand proved popular as it was swamped with all kinds of visitors, ranging from the young to the old.
What made their exhibition unique was that they distributed male and female condoms while demonstrating their correct use.
This was the first time sex workers exhibited at ZITF, a first for those in the oldest profession after the previous government under former president Robert Mugabe made their mission impossible, ostensibly on the basis that it was taboo.
Sexual Rights Centre (SRC) legal support officer Sipho Khumalo, whose organisation represents sex workers, was full of praise for the exhibition.
“The exhibition was okay, people flooded our stands, and they came and got clarity on many issues pertaining to the exhibition. In a nut shell it all went well,” she said.
Hazel Anesu Zemura of the Zimbabwe Aids Network (ZAN), whose organisation was part of the exhibition, told Southern News that they distributed over 3 000 male condoms throughout the week-long fair. She, however, expressed disappointment at the low uptake of female condoms as well as lubricants.
“We distributed over 3 000 condoms, the uptake was very high, especially during the last two days which were public days. However, we only managed to distribute few lubricants and less than 100 female condoms. Funny enough, women who visited our stands were interested in male condoms and knowing their correct use,” she said.
“People, particularly the exhibitors, were interested in the flavoured condoms which they came to collect. The strawberry flavour was the most popular as the message spread through with people informing each other about our stand,” Zemura said.
She also added that it was time stakeholders be innovative and try to promote the use of flavoured condoms as they play a blinder in reducing the spread of sexually transmitted infections.
Turning to the whole exhibition, Zemura said she was upbeat at the overwhelming response.
“The response was good, we had quite a big number coming to visit our stand, we wish we could have done a head count,” she said.
“The perception about our stand actually changed as we explained and educated them about we stand for, generally everyone wanted to visit us,” she said.
Other organisations that were part of the showcase include Women Against All Forms of Discrimination (WAAFD) and the National Aids Council among others.