Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT has pegged interest rates for loans to be accessed by looted businesses during the recent violent protests at between two and four percent per annum.
The loans are set to be accessed soon and will have a repayment period of up to 24 months, Industry and Commerce Minister, Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, said.
Following the violent protests in January, Government set up a $30 million funding facility to help affected businesses to restock and rebuild their infrastructure.
Speaking at an exhibition dinner hosted by the Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) in Bulawayo last week, Minister Ndlovu said:
“I wish to be clear from the onset that from a Government point of view, this is our duty of rescue, we are doing this to keep the businesses afloat and it is not compensation.
“Those who listed equipment and wish to replace it will be paying an interest rate of three percent per annum and have 12 months to 24 months to repay.”
He encouraged businesses that suffered losses during the protests to pursue legal channels in terms of seeking compensation saying the organisers of those demonstrations were responsible and liable.
“And those who list their buildings during the process will access the facility at a concessionary rate of interest of two percent per annum with 10 to 15 years repayment period,” Minister Ndlovu said, adding that businesses intending to restock would have an interest rate of four percent per annum.
The Minister said businesses that would access the fund should prioritise repaying unlike in the past where there have been cases of people who viewed Government interventions as free money.
“We will put proper monitoring mechanisms in this facility because we expect our business community at least to adhere to basic business principles,” he said.
When the disturbances occurred, Minister Ndlovu and other senior Government officials visited businesses around Bulawayo and requested the Minister of State (Judith Ncube) to liaise with key stakeholders in gathering information around the losses.
“We got a full list at the time of the businesses who had suffered losses together with their estimated losses quantum. And it is on that basis that we applied to Government for a relief funding. The $30 million is a flagship of the amount that we got from the Ministers of State across the 10 provinces,” he said.
The Minister said they regard the businesses who submitted their names and estimates of losses during that time when nobody knew that there was relief coming as the template for repayment.
This was being done to ensure the process will not be manipulated.
“It’s not going to be possible for us to receive any new applications because we want to avoid manipulation of the process.
“This is by no means saying that we view you as less genuine, but it’s also important that we have adequate control measures as we implement this,” said Minister Ndlovu.
He commended efforts by GMAZ for ensuring basic commodities supply after the violent demonstrations.
GMAZ chairman Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said the milling industry was willing and capacitated to participate in the restocking programme.
“We are here to register to you that the milling industry is ready, willing and able to be your suppliers and allies as you commence the process of rebuilding in terms of restocking and replacement of capital equipment wantonly destroyed and looted during the disturbances of January 2019,” he said.
In the violent demonstrations, the milling sector lost nearly $3 million worth of stock.