Gono disclosed that only US$900 000 has been disbursed out of the applications worth US$27 million during an address of the Bulawayo business community under the auspices of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries. Vice-President John Nkomo attended the meeting at which Gono made startling remarks.
“You need to adopt a different approach than one of mourning and crying. Go and get that money…stop mourning,” said Gono.
Gono suggested that demonstrators should occupy the offices of ministers Biti and Ncube as well as those of CABS, telling them that this was not a crime and therefore they should not fear. He was prepared to join them, he said.
This, Gono believed, would help secure the release of Dimaf, a US$40 million fund set up by Treasury last year to be disbursed through CABS to revive Bulawayo industries. Nearly 100 companies have shut down in Bulawayo over the years due to economic problems. Dimaf is meant to help companies in the city to purchase equipment and raw materials to enhance output and quality of goods, as well as assist them cover their operating costs.
“I look to a day where I see headlines saying you have gone on a hunger strike, spent three days in Biti’s office so be it, or Ncube’s office rather than crying. Now that you know where the money is, go and even occupy CABS’ offices,” Gono challenged the businessmen.
“Worldwide we have heard of Occupy Wall Street, but you are just sitting here…it is time for people of this region to stand up and go and implement issues.”
Gono lambasted the Matabeleland region for having an over-dependency syndrome, resulting in it having the most Non-Governmental Organisations in the country. He said people in the region had a tendency of “blaming our leadership, including Nkomo who is here”.
The governor quickly stressed that he was not advocating violence, saying “violence is a sign of being barbaric”.
“Government allocated US$40 million to Bulawayo industries but where are the wheels falling off, it’s at implementation stage, who is supposed to implement it?” asked Gono.
Earlier, CZI Matabeleland President Ruth Labode appealed to Nkomo to intervene by having the funds’ administration taken away from Ncube and Biti and be administered by Gono. Labode said Gono has vast experience in handling “sector-targeted funds”.
“Ncube and Biti took US$20 million from government meant for Dimaf and gave it to a building society, CABS, to administer, but I doubt if it has capacity to handle it. Please Nkomo intervene. It would be better for Gono who has experience to handle the funds but they should be only for Bulawayo,” she said.
Labode said the Dimaf concept is ideal but Ncube and Biti “have failed us” and it would take Gono a week to disburse the funds.
The Industry and Commerce ministry says 85 companies closed down last year due to high production costs, high tariffs and lack of credit lines, leaving 20 000 workers jobless. Of the 85 closed companies, 19 are in the clothing and textiles, 63 in the motor and three under the construction sector, while five companies were reported to be under judicial management.
On Thursday, Biti said less than US$2 million has been disbursed under Dimaf, primarily set up to resuscitate industry in Bulawayo.
“Following the launch of Dimaf in Bulawayo on October 10, 2011, modalities for implementation of the facility were put in place and eligible companies were invited to submit projects to CABS,” he said.
“To date, applications submitted to CABS amount to US$16,9 million, of which US$12,2 million is for Bulawayo projects. Projects totalling US$3,4 million have been approved, whilst actual disbursements amount to US$1,97 million,’’ said Biti.