|Economic focus with Gabriel Masvora|
|Saturday, 08 September 2012 14:04|
No industry, no water, no electricity: What next for Byo?WILL someone ever hear the cries of the Bulawayo community or it has become common that those who are supposed to wipe the tears will just look, turn and continue with their daily chores as if they have not seen or heard anything.
Bulawayo, the second largest city in the country has been dying and its immune system seems to be weakening further with each year while the promised medication seems to be taking ages to come by.
Over the years, the city’s industry has been crying for doses of financial medication to heal itself from the life-threatening economic messy that it finds itself in.
In fact, because of the slow reaction of those who are supposed to protect the city and the country at large, 92 companies have succumbed to the economic bug throwing more than 20 000 people out of work.
As if that is not enough, the few companies that are still staggering trying to find ground to stand have been hit by another major challenge that promises to kill them completely.
The water situation in the city has brought about a new equally dangerous dimension and the council has introduced a tight water rationing that has seen suburbs going for an average of four days per week without water.
This is very sad as Bulawayo has continued to decline without any proper intervention.
Water is a basic right to human beings and worse an important input for any industry to thrive.
Water is one of the considerations an investor would make before pouring in his or her money.
What is so surprising is that the water challenge, like most of the problems the city has faced is not new. It is not like we did not know that there will be water shortages in the city. In fact, the water problem was first noticed more than 100 years ago, that is why some interventions, although they have failed to take off, were mooted more than a century ago.
And the situation Bulawayo finds itself in today did not manifest overnight.
The whole country last season received below average rainfall and it was inevitable that areas like Bulawayo that rely on dams situated in dry areas would face water problems if nothing is done. The city council and the Government knew this and in fact have known this for many years although there is nothing they seem to do to find a lasting solution.
What we hear of are projects to improve water supply to the city but nothing is taking shape.
It becomes even more disturbing when ministers who are supposed to deal with problems facing the city are brothers and fathers who grew up in Bulawayo and who do not need anyone to clearly tell them of the problems on the ground.
The water portfolio is under Minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, a Member of the House of Assembly for Lobengula.
Minister Nkomo, we know you have become a typical bureaucrat who would find technical answers to every question.
We are aware of this and that reason. We are aware that money has not been released. We are aware that projects are behind time.
But what the people know is that you are the leader of that ministry, whatever happens, good or bad ends up on your desk.
As ordinary people who want to see their lives improve, we look upon you to solve this water problem. Enough of the excuses and as a leader you must find a way out. A father can never tell his children that he has failed to feed them unless that is an indirect application to be disowned by the same children. Minister Nkomo, the people who voted for you, including your campaign manager and his team in Lobengula do not have water right now. The same people whom you promised change when you were campaigning a few years ago. Is this the change you were gloating about? The change of taps running dry and the whole city drifting into a desert.
Many people in your constituency might have lost their jobs because there is no water at the industry.
Same goes to the mayor and his councillors. You knew before you came in that Bulawayo had such problems and what have you done — coming in to continue reading excuses while the city runs dry. People must know that they are elected or promoted to positions not to copy and paste old and tired programmes and excuses. They must come in with concrete solutions that will change the people’s lives. If you cannot bring change then ask yourself whether it was worthy coming in at the beginning.
It is the same situation in industry. The portfolio falls under Professor Welshman Ncube, another local boy who grew up in the city. Someone who probably knows Bulawayo and all its companies not because he is now the minister in charge but because his relatives and friends were working there. He does not need the media or his officers to tell him about the problems in the city — he knows them but what has he done.
He has also mastered the game of shifting blames to other people. If other ministers can persuade the treasury to release money for their projects why is he not doing the same? After all it is not about treasury only, as a minister what has he done to find an alternative solution to funding the industry? Do you give up simply because one door has closed or you look for an alternative one?
It is sad that Bulawayo is left to die and becomes more painful when its sons and daughters are given the mandate to lead its revival but continue to show the same signs of incompetence that has become evident among many administrators.
Right now Bulawayo is limping, it’s crying out loud for help and with the way things are continuing this city will soon be grounded.
First it was companies closing and retrenching and now the city has run dry and who knows what is next.
Generations will judge people who have left the city to rot and allowed it to resemble a disused mine.
Zimbabwe GDP is below $5 billion, it is not everyone who has slapped us with sanctions. If we can solicit for say US$5 billion with all these minerals and potential industries, it can’t take us two years to pay back. Probably our political ground is not level. — 0712430155.