BULAWAYO has set up a committee to drive implementation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) model in the city as part of efforts to lure investors and revive ailing industries.
The city has already been designated as a manufacturing SEZ by Government alongside other sister zones in the country that include Sunway City in Harare, Victoria Falls and Tokwe Mukorsi in Masvingo.
The new committee is made up of officials from different ministries, the Bulawayo City Council and captains of industry and commerce. Bulawayo Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube and United Refineries Limited chief executive officer, Mr Busisa Moyo, have already been appointed as members of the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) board, which is led by former RBZ Governor, Dr Gideon Gono.
Association for Business in Zimbabwe (Abuz) chief executive officer Mr Victor Nyoni has called on businesses in Bulawayo to embrace the SEZs initiative.
“In his 2018 budget Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa talked about Bulawayo being designated a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) area. A SEZ committee has already been put in place and Abuz is part of this committee,” said Mr Nyoni.
“Through these committees there is need for a serious conversation on how the city can attract both local and foreign investment. Part of the issue is to seriously talk about is the role played by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and all other banks in the city.”
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) Matabeleland Chapter president, Mr Joseph Gunda, has also confirmed formation of the local SEZs committee to which the industry body is a member.
The Bulawayo City Council has already come up with a proposal incentive package that includes tax holidays for investors under SEZs. It has also identified five areas, including serviced stands, where SEZs operators may operate from.
According to statistics from the World Bank, there are more than 3 000 projects taking place in SEZs in 135 countries worldwide creating more than 68 million jobs and generating $500 billion worth of trade.
The implementation of SEZs took centre stage during last week’s 2018 National Budget review dialogue organised by The Chronicle Business. In his address at the event The Chronicle acting general manager Mr Shadrack Chikamhi challenged businesses in the city to work together to reverse de-industrialisation and help restore Bulawayo to its former glory.
Bulawayo Central House of Assembly Member Ms Dorcas Sibanda who also attended the event said industry revival in the city would not come on a silver platter unless business associations aggressively lobbied Government to craft policies they desire.
“Policies are man-made by you. According to the Constitution, you have the mandate and right, we are here for you. Policies can be played around with to suit your needs,” said Ms Sibanda.
“You need to mention to policy makers, you need to tell them what you want.
“You say this is what we want to grow our cake. Growing that cake is everyone’s job, if we sit back and say this is not our duty but that of a certain political party.”
The legislator urged businesses to read the budget statement thoroughly and make further recommendations before the document was voted into law by Parliament.