Govt to craft strategy to revive industry

GOVERNMENT is yet to come up with a way forward to stop company closures and revive industry following a decade of hyper-inflation and economic stagnation, a government official said.

Taurai Mangudhla

Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha said his ministry, together with other government departments, was on the verge of completing a strategic document that will speak directly to industrial revival in the face of increasing company closures, downsizing and subsequent retrenchments.

He said government was fully aware of the alarming rate of company closures and job losses, hence the move to specifically craft a strategy.

“We are currently holding consultations with various stakeholders from both government and the private sector, so it is still currently work in progress,” Bimha said.

He said the new economic blueprint that was adopted by cabinet this week also speaks to the need to revive industry and tapped ideas from industry, government and investors.

“We, as a ministry have said we want to ensure companies keep operating and the blueprint talks about increasing capacity utilisation. If companies keep operating then there is no loss of jobs, and capacity utilisation growth means new jobs are created. We are addressing issues of employment and employment creation which is exactly what government wants to see,” added the minister.

Bimha said company closures and retrenchments were worrying government, hence the need for a lasting solution.

“We have been talking about this and we are committed to resolving the problems. The problem of de-industrialisation is there and more pronounced in Bulawayo but we will address it, even President (Robert) Mugabe said clearly that we as government want to restore industry back to its proper position,” he said.

Bimha’s comments come after the Independent last week reported a July 2013 National Social Security Authority Harare Regional Employer Closures and Registrations Report for the period July 2011 to July 2013 which showed that 711 companies in Harare closed down, rendering 8 336 individuals jobless.

A July 2013 Employment Confederation of Zimbabwe (EmCoz) report shows 1 100 individuals were retrenched in the first half of 2013 and were recorded at the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. The EmCoz report said Olivine Industries laid off 109 employees in the first quarter of 2013 and Interfin Bank retrenched 114 workers in the second quarter of 2013.

Major companies that have retrenched include platinum miners Zimplats and Unki, plus Bindura Nickel Corporation, Spar supermarkets, Dairibord, Cairns, Olivine Industries and PG Industries.

According to a Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries 2013 Manufacturing Sector Survey, lack of finance, policy inconsistencies, inadequate infrastructure, restrictive labour laws and government bureaucracy are the major hurdles for local business.