ACTING President Phelekezela Mphoko yesterday described as “criminal” the wave of business property auctions in Bulawayo and other parts of the country, saying this was a deliberate ploy to frustrate economic growth.
The demise of Bulawayo industries, he said, was largely engineered by corrupt individuals who connived with errant judicial officers to strip companies and attached their properties, which they proceeded to sell for a song.
Responding to concerns over the slow pace of revitalising the city’s industry during a briefing at Mhlahlandlela Government Complex yesterday, the Acting President also challenged the business community to play their part saying “not everything could be blamed on the Government”.
“We all have a task to do and we can’t allow Bulawayo to collapse,” he told ministers, MPs, top government officials and business executives.
“Bulawayo problems are mainly a result of corrupt tendencies. We’ve people who connive with the Sheriff and the lawyers to attach business properties, which they sell for a song. That’s criminal! There’s a lot we can do in this city but some people are just crooks.
“It’s possible to turn the economy of this city around because the necessary infrastructure is still there. So, let’s work together to bring transformation and return Bulawayo to what it was.”
Dozens of companies including State enterprises such as the Cold Storage Company (CSC) and Hwange Colliery Company Limited have lost properties and equipment through auctions over debts to various creditors.
Some of the affected companies have suffered total collapse, with surviving ones struggling to keep afloat.
Lobby groups and unions have partly blamed the development for loss of jobs as they urged adoption of a moratorium to protect company assets.
“It’s a pity Bulawayo people have kept quiet and let thieves take away and sell your properties.
“The MPs that are here must work hard and see this as a challenge. You shouldn’t go to Parliament for prestige and just to get cars. It’s a service to the people,” said the Acting President.
He reiterated that Bulawayo was a strategic economic city with a proud history of a robust manufacturing industry that should be urgently revived.
A businessman in his own right, Acting President Mphoko urged entrepreneurs to come up with viable business proposals and pledged Government support in securing funding through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
“The RBZ governor (Dr John Mangudya) is a good man. He has plans to assist us. There’s much more we can do and we only need to avail bankable projects in seeking funding,” he added.
Bulawayo Provincial Minister of State Cde Eunice Nomthandazo Moyo made a presentation highlighting the city’s diverse challenges covering low industrial activity, unemployment, accommodation shortages, service delivery and challenges in accessing funding.
The Minister of State in Vice President Mphoko’s Office, Cde Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga, Members of the House of Assembly and top Government administrators attended the briefing.
The Acting President later toured the city’s companies where he was appraised about the state of industry, the challenges and opportunities.