via Zimpapers in drive to boost investment in Bulawayo | The Herald October 22, 2013
ZIMPAPERS, in conjunction with Chinese investors, is working on a huge investment to turn the defunct Typocrafters into a modern printing firm that will tap into the local and regional markets.Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, his deputy Cde Supa Mandiwanzira, Zimpapers chief operating officer and editor-in-chief Pikirayi Deketeke and officials from the Chinese Embassy, yesterday toured Typocrafters premises in Belmont to assess its suitability for the new deal.
Chinese officials expressed satisfaction with the facilities and pledged to compile an urgent report for their Government recommending investing in Bulawayo.
Addressing the delegation, Prof Moyo said: “The place appears like some ruins, but the truth is that a lot of good business for Zimpapers used to come from here. This is a good example of what happens if you allow technology to go ahead of you.
“What is important is that there is a bright future for this place. It is still suitable to house state-of-the-art printing equipment in the same manner with what is happening in Harare . The new printing press will be able to print Chronicle and Sunday News from here and other titles.
“It will also reach other markets, for example in Botswana and South Africa. We are also talking about printing commercially and this will create more opportunities.”
Prof Moyo said the move would cut production costs for Zimpapers as it would be able to print The Herald and The Sunday Mail for sale in the southern region, while Chronicle and Sunday News would also be printed in Harare.
He said the fruition of the initiative would not only improve economic efficiency for the public media, but increase the spreading of information across the country.
“We have been engaging other media houses talking about the issue of sharing facilities and I have no doubt they will be interested in taking a look into this initiative.
“It will be good that we do not consider this as a Zimpapers facility, but a national facility for the growth of all media houses. We are keen to move forward as soon as possible,” said Prof Moyo.
“This will make the papers reach out to all corners of the country, which is currently not possible but necessary given the importance of information. We prioritised this visit and we are grateful that you were able to come here.”
He instructed management to provide the Chinese officials with the required technical information and specifications and described the initiative as a fantastic move for Zimpapers.
Chinese Embassy economic counsellor Mr Han Bing said he was satisfied with the facility, saying it was suitable to house modern equipment.
“We visited this site to see if it was suitable for the project of a new printing line. We will report back to China what we saw today and lobby our Government to consider investing here,” said Mr Han, who could not be drawn into disclosing the value of the proposed investment.
“We needed specifications about this place, its size, condition and design and we are impressed. The building itself is nice and the conditions are excellent and suitable for a modern company. It just needs a few renovations.”
Cde Mandiwanzira said the scope of the proposed investment showed Government’s commitment towards reviving industries, particularly in Bulawayo.
The proposed investment comes as a relief to Bulawayo, where about 100 firms have closed in the last decade, leaving thousands jobless.
“This reflects a lot of things that we have been talking about concerning revival of industry, especially in this part of the country. It shows our commitment to revive Bulawayo industry and Matabeleland region as a whole,” said Cde Mandiwanzira.
Mr Deketeke said the company has been engaging Chinese investors for a long time seeking partnership for recapitalisation.
“We have been talking to China in the past under the Government-to-Government co-operation and they have expressed interest in giving us a grant or interest-free loan, which will be facilitated to us in the form of a new printing press,” said Mr Deketeke.
“This is a ghost that needs to be revived and we will revive it and have a fully fledged factory. This visit is part of that engagement process and it has not been finalised. We are happy that they have seen our facility and they are impressed with it.”
At the moment, Typocrafters lies desolate with mounds of obsolete equipment and disused offices. Part of the building has been leased to a departmental store, Fazak, and Sunset Milling Company on an annual contract.
Zimpapers Bulawayo Branch general manager Mr Marks Shayamano and Chronicle editor Mduduzi Mathuthu were also part of the delegation.
Later on the delegation visited the Zimpapers Bulawayo branch where it assessed the printing press. Prof Moyo said the printing equipment at the branch was old and needed to be replaced.
He also said there was a need to give the entire building a facelift.