Pamela Shumba Senior Reporter—
THE government is working with businesses to revive industries in Bulawayo in an initiative aimed at restoring the city’s status as the country’s industrial hub, Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has said. In a speech read on his behalf by Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister, Chiratidzo Mabuwa, at the official opening of the Chicken Inn Drive Through at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo on Friday, VP Mphoko said he was working with companies to craft strategies to resuscitate businesses in Bulawayo.
The Chicken Inn Drive Through is the first to be opened in the southern region of the country. “I’ve been working with the business community of Bulawayo to craft strategies of resuscitating businesses in Bulawayo so that Bulawayo can become the business hub of Zimbabwe once again.
“I call upon the private sector to respond positively to the government’s initiatives of improving the economic and investment environment in the country. “The private sector should come on board and work with the government to alleviate the serious effects of drought by taking their social responsibilities seriously,” said VP Mphoko.
He said the drought that has slowed down the government’s thrust towards economic recovery through Zim-Asset must be tackled by all: the government, the private sector and the United Nations (UN) agencies in the country.
“I’m pleased to point out that the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF) is in place and the government, UN agencies and other stakeholders are working very well together to address the effects of drought and other Zim-Asset targets.
“The drought mitigation measures have to target the most vulnerable of our society. Companies, especially those in the retail sector, should strive to ensure that food commodities are affordable and accessible,” said VP Mphoko.
He congratulated Simbisa Brands for opening the new Chicken Inn Drive Through in response to the 10 point plan for economic growth outlined by President Mugabe last year to buttress Zim-Asset.
“I’ve been informed that the first Chicken Inn outlet was opened in Harare in 1987 and now Simbisa Brands has 200 stores in Zimbabwe, employing 2,500 workers, with 754 employed in 64 stores in the southern region.
“I’ve been further informed that the company pays out close to $15 million per year to its workers. It’s therefore gratifying when companies like Simbisa are forging ahead and expanding their operations’,” said VP Mphoko.
The official opening ceremony was attended by senior officials from the government, Bulawayo City Council and Simbisa Brands.