The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE Government has raised concerns at the slow uptake of Bulawayo’s Special Economic Zones (SEZs) designated areas.
Addressing captains of industry recently, Industry and Commerce Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu said the Government deliberately designated four areas as SEZs in Bulawayo as part of efforts to accelerate the revival of its industries, which have been on a slump due to a myriad of economically related challenges over the last two decades.
“In support of industrial development in Bulawayo, Government designated four SEZs in the City and these are Belmont/ Donnington/Kelvin corridor, and Umvumila Industrial Park, which are targeted to enable them to attract accelerated investments. I wish to acknowledge that I’m not quite happy with the progress made there, I want to be appraised if there is any investment that has come through as a result and we need to interrogate the bottlenecks that are slowing progress,” said Minister Ndlovu.
Bulawayo was once revered as the industrial hub of the country. However, the closure of hundreds of companies and relocation of others has left it a pale shadow of itself. Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) Matabeleland chapter president Mr Joseph Gunda said there was a need to expedite the implementation of SEZs in Bulawayo to increase the flow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
“We have the SEZ, it also needs to be implemented for Bulawayo though there are a few companies that have already made applications. That (SEZ) to us is a path to development, revival and resuscitation of Bulawayo (industries) and it will certainly assist in attracting FDI and the mantra that ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business’,” he said.
Bulawayo is part of the six zones designated by the Government as SEZ, the others being Beitbridge, Harare-Sunway City, Victoria Falls and Mutare-Fernhill.
A SEZ is a geographical region that has economic laws that are more free-market-oriented than a country’s typical or national laws. “Nationwide” laws may be suspended inside a special economic zone. The category “SEZ” covers a broad range of more specific zone types, including Free Trade Zones, Export Processing Zones, Free Zones, Industrial Estates, Free Ports and Urban Enterprise Zones. Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (Zimseza) chief executive officer Mr Edwin Kondo said all the designated zones were at various stages of development.
“These zones are at different levels of development and the authority together with its key stakeholders have resolved to commence the development of Bulawayo (two zones), Sunway City and Beitbridge as they are the lowest hanging fruits out of the six zones,” he said.
Mr Kondo said three companies had already applied for SEZ status in Bulawayo.
“The technical working group for Bulawayo SEZs are finalising the implementation plans for project implementation. Bulawayo comprises two zones, Umvumila and the Belmont/Kelvin/Donnington corridor collectively. Three companies have already applied for SEZ status in Bulawayo,” he said.