Africa Moyo Business Reporter
VETERAN construction industry player and Murehwa North Constituency House of Assembly member-elect Daniel Garwe (ZANU-PF), says he will push for the recognition of the construction sector, particularly local players, during the life of the new parliament.
Mr Garwe, who owns Planet Building, says the adoption of the Construction Industry Bill will be central to levelling the playing field in the sector, which is currently skewed in favour of foreigners.
President Mnangagwa, who beat MDC Alliance presidential candidate Advocate Nelson Chamisa after garnering 50,8 percent of the 4,4 million votes cast, believes in focusing on economic revival compared to politics, hence Mr Garwe’s desire to boost job creation and foreign currency generation through the construction industry.
The proposed Bill, which has been on the cards since 1996, has a provision for the establishment of a Construction Industry Council aimed at regulating the sector by ensuring registration and monitoring.
Mr Garwe say the Bill speaks for the sector and “understands what the construction industry is”.
“It defines what the construction industry is and what government has to do, it defines what every player in the build environment must do, it defines everyone’s role and our expectations in terms of empowerment, our expectations in terms of funding from government and our expectations in terms of the financial industry, among others.
“So that Bill answers all toxic questions,” said Mr Garwe.
Funding is seen as the major albatross for the sector, particularly for local players who are losing tenders to their foreign counterparts.
Mr Garwe said the absence of funding has seen most local contractors losing tenders to well-heeled foreign-owned companies such as Group Five International of South Africa.
When foreigners get tenders, local firms are then roped in as subcontractors and generate little income that does not grow their profiles.
Group Five, a subsidiary of the JSE-listed Group Five Construction, won the tender to refurbish the 828km Plumtree-Harare-Mutare Highway.
The project started in 2012 and was finished in 2015.
It was financed by a $206 million loan from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), a figure most local firms cannot access because of their size.
Currently, Government is in discussions with Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group Limited (AFECC), a top Chinese firm, which has been earmarked to dualise the Harare-Beitbridge Highway.
The tender had been awarded to Austrian firm, Geiger International, but couldn’t raise the required funds.
This prompted Government to cancel the tender and engage AFECC which was the second-best bidder.
However, Mr Garwe believes the construction industry will not rise “when it is foreign dominated”.
“You can’t go to (the United States of) America and start such a business without an American being a part of you. It’s a pipe dream and we want that to be the case here.
“Foreigners must go to bed with us when they come. We don’t want the experience we had in the last 10 years when one favoured nation got everything, we want to share the cake equitably,” said Mr Garwe.
But he acknowledged that given the constrained capacity of local contractors, they would have to get contracts they can manage.
“Government must put in place measures to ensure that we can compete with others from South Africa such as Group Five. Right now there is no company that can compete with Group Five.
“So we just want that Bill to sail through (and) it’s my singular task to ensure that the Bill sails through and the industry is recognised like any other industry.
“We have engineers, they are guided by an Act of Parliament, the architects have got an Act of parliament and contractors are exposed and we are pushing for their activities to be guided by an Act of parliament so that who-ever that is coming into Zimbabwe will know they are partnering with a local,” said Mr Garwe.