Hope for Byo workers: As Govt works towards resuscitating strategic industries
Oliver Kazunga, Senior Reporter
THE Government is working towards the resuscitation of strategic industries in Bulawayo to restore the city to its former glory, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said yesterday.
He said this while officiating at the groundbreaking ceremony to mark the commencement of the construction of a state-of-the art shopping complex in Cowdray Park high density suburb in the city.
The proposed $12 million shopping complex by Sai Enterprises will be built on a 12 000 square metre piece of land.
Over the years, Sai Enterprises, a family business owned by Bulawayo business tycoon Mr Raj Modi, has generated about 1 500 jobs.
The complex will comprise a main supermarket, departmental store, specialty shops, entertainment area and cinema, banks and a medical service centre, among other utilities.
Speaking off the cuff during the ground breaking ceremony, Cde Mnangagwa said:
“There is already a committee headed by my colleague Vice President Cde Mphoko on the resuscitation of the Cold Storage Company and another programme to resuscitate the National Railways of Zimbabwe.
“So, we see a vision for Bulawayo where the past glory will come back, not only the past glory but an enhanced glory will come back to Zimbabwe”.
Cde Mnangagwa said Bulawayo was one of the three areas that the Government has so far designated for the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) concept.
SEZs are designated geographical regions that operate under special economic regulations that are different from other areas in the same country.
“Bulawayo will specialise in industrial growth, Sunway City in Harare will specialise in ICT (Information Communication Technology), and then Victoria Falls . . . in Matabeleland North will specialise in financial services.
“But I think of these three, industrial growth is the backdrop for the growth of the economy, so the people of Bulawayo should be happy,” he said.
In his speech, Cde Mnangagwa said under the SEZ concept, some of the products to be processed by Bulawayo industries would include leather, clothing and indigenous foods.
He said Zimbabwe was ready for business adding that the country was on an upward trajectory in creating a favourable business environment.
“As Government, we are at advanced stages of instituting ‘Ease of Doing Business Reforms’ through the “Deeds Registries Amendment Bill, 2016” and the “Judicial Laws Amendment (Ease of Settling Commercial and other Disputes) Bill, 2017, among other pieces of legislation.
“Enactment of the Bills into law will witness a positive change in the commercial landscape of Zimbabwe,” said Cde Mnangagwa.
He noted that an anticipated surge in foreign and domestic tourist arrivals was certain to gain traction adding lustre to the proposed shopping complex in Cowdray Park.
This, he said, would make the Matopos National Park and the prospect of viewing the national heritage buildings in Bulawayo even more thrilling.
“Already, prospects of airlines such as Ethiopian Airways extending their flights from Victoria Falls to Bulawayo are now very high,” he said.
Cde Mnangagwa commended Sai Enterprises for continuing to invest in the country’s economy and implored the company to take advantage of the SEZs Act.
“While most companies are closing shop, citing economic challenges, Sai Enterprises is forging ahead with a major investment here in Cowdray Park with an initial injection of $10 million towards construction of the shopping complex.
“All unskilled labour will be sourced here while only those jobs requiring specialisation will be given on merit. To that end, I am reliably informed that completion of works on the site is expected by August 2018, with the first phase targeted to be ready by November 2017,” he said.
During construction of the shopping mall, an estimated 1 000 jobs will be created while in excess of 300 employment opportunities will be generated once the complex becomes operational.
Sai Enterprises, which started in Bulawayo from humble beginnings about 35 years ago, is diversifying into areas such as liquor production, school exercise books manufacturing as well as water bottling.
“I call upon the company to support our farmers by providing them with a market for their agricultural products. These include produce from the highly successful maize production for import substitution (Command Agriculture), the Presidential Inputs Scheme, wheat production, high value horticultural produce and the poultry industry, among others.”
During the groundbreaking ceremony, Mr Modi took the opportunity to donate various goods worth $10 000 to 300 under privileged families.
Before the groundbreaking ceremony, Cde Mnangagwa, the Modi family, legislators from Bulawayo, Midlands and Matabeleland South provinces and several Government officials attended a Catholic Mass at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Cowdray Park.
During the Catholic mass, Cde Mnangagwa, who was blessed by Father Gilbert Moyo, said the church plays a key role in promoting unity and peace.
“The churches teach peace, the churches teach love, the churches teach unity; to love each other. If we all exude love, unite and help each other, then the work of the church becomes easy. So, the role of the church in a State is paramount,” he said.
Sai Enterprises also donated $5 000 to the Holy Trinity Church while Cde Mnangagwa donated $1 000 towards the rehabilitation of the church’s hall that was recently gutted by fire.