Felex Share Senior Reporter
Government has set up a Cabinet ad hoc committee to assess the level of damage to infrastructure and the quantum of losses incurred by businesspeople during the recent violent demonstrations perpetrated by MDC-Alliance and its affiliate non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
The committee, comprising eight ministries, was tasked to immediately come up with measures to bring relief to affected communities and help businesses to recover.
Addressing journalists after this year’s maiden Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Cabinet expressed “grave” concern over the wanton destruction of property and businesses during the violent protests that took place between January 14 and 16.
“Cabinet noted that as a result of this regrettable occurrence, a number of households in several high-density suburbs were facing difficulties in accessing basic goods and services,” she said.
“In addition, a number of small-to-medium business enterprises were either destroyed or had their stocks looted, leaving them with no capital to finance operations.
“Accordingly, Government has set up an ad hoc Cabinet committee chaired by the Minister of Industry and Commerce to assess the level of damage to business infrastructure, the looting of stocks, quantum of losses and to come up with strategies to alleviate the plight of the affected households, as well as to assist in the recovery of the affected businesses as a matter of urgency.”
Industrialists estimate that the economy could have lost business amounting to $300 million over the three-day forced shut-down.
Companies and individuals that lost property to the marauding demonstrators have been plunged into serious financial challenges since insurance firms do not compensate anything destroyed during riots.
Ordinary businesses became the biggest targets of attack, resulting in the loss of goods, income, jobs and shops which were vandalised.
Expanding on the ad hoc committee, Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said: “The President and Cabinet have agreed that there is urgent need to provide support to the affected communities and businesses.
“There is an inter-ministerial committee that has been set up which consists of about eight ministries and we also have the latitude to invite the private sector, particularly the retailers, to be part of this.
“We have to come up with strategies to alleviate the plight of the affected people, but most importantly to assist affected business people. We will come back to Cabinet with those strategies for approval and Government assistance will be rolled out thereafter.
“This will be treated as a matter of urgency because we do appreciate the plight of the people.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet also discussed improvements in fuel supply.
“Cabinet noted that the availability of fuel on the local market had significantly improved in most parts of the country following the recent price adjustment,” she said.
“Full normalisation of the fuel supply situation is expected to be achieved throughout the country in a short time to come.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet had received a report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade on President Mnangagwa’s recent visit to the Russian Federation.
She said Cabinet noted with satisfaction the President’s visit, which had opened numerous avenues for deeper cooperation between Zimbabwe and the four Eurasian countries he visited.
The President visited Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan and sealed multi-million deals in the areas of mining, agriculture, tourism, energy, education, health, technological innovation and transport.