The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo and Crispen Gumunyu, Business Reporters
THE Government will soon start reconstructing and refurbishing business buildings destroyed during the ill-fated demonstrations, which were organised by the MDC-Alliance and some civic organisations in January.
Industry and Commerce Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu said the Government successful funded businesses, especially retail outlets, which had their goods looted and apparatus destroyed to restock and re-equip.
“The first stage was to give loans to all whose stocks were looted earlier this year. They have started paying back and we are getting close to a $1 million every month in repayments. We have also managed to assist retailers whose equipment was damaged,” he said.
The Government released a $30 million emergency relief facility to assist the businesses that suffered from the violence.
Businesses that were restocking accessed the loan facility at a concessionary interest rate of four percent per annum with repayment being expected within three to six months.
Those that replaced equipment are expected to pay an interest rate of three percent per annum and have 12 to 24 months to repay, while those who lost their buildings will access funding at a concessionary rate of two percent per annum and have 10 to 15 years repayment period. Minister Ndlovu said efforts to rebuild the buildings that were destroyed during the violent skirmishes are underway.
“We are now working on the final stage (of assisting businesses that were affected during the demonstrations), which is reconstructing the burnt down structures. We expect that by the end of October we should be nearing a process whereby we will be handing over the facilities and this shows that Government is committed to assisting industry and commerce,” he said.
Bulawayo companies were the worst affected with more than 100 shops looted and some destroyed.
The eight buildings that were destroyed during the politically-motivated demonstrations are all from Bulawayo while those in Harare suffered minor damages.
“We asked them to do an evaluation (of the damage on their properties) so the $19 million that came for Bulawayo was sufficient for everything. We appreciate that prices have changed and we expect them to start the process. Wherever there is a shortfall we will see what to do,” said Minister Ndlovu.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) president Mr Denford Mutashu applauded the Government’s move but hinted that most shop owners were already facing litigations due to their failure to settle loans accessed from financial institutions as well as non-payment of debts to various suppliers.
“The move by Government though long overdue is quite commendable as it helps restore dignity to sector players who lost their only source of livelihood. Most victims of the violence have been taken to court since they owed banks and suppliers,” he said.