The Sunday News
Blessing Karubwa, Business Reporter
THE cotton to clothing value chain sector says an urgent capitalisation bailout package and deliberate policy support measures from the Government would help rejuvenate its members and yield greater value to the wider economy.
A combination of factors that include lack of funding, ageing equipment and a shift in global technology standards have over the years piled pressure on the sector, resulting in closure of several clothing and textile firms in Bulawayo.
The trend resulted in loss of jobs for hundreds of skilled people while some found solace in opening small factories, which also struggle with operational constraints. Speaking during a visit to Cotton Pro Company (CPC) in Bulawayo last week, secretary for National Employment Council (NEC) for the textile industry, Mr Watson Charewa, said there was still hope for the revival of the cotton to clothing value chain if supportive policies and funding are to be availed.
He said the industry has the potential to boost domestic products, exports and job creation in a big way.
“We used to have many ginners that had the capacity to process all our cotton but at the moment they are also shrinking, so we need them. There should be deliberate policies, we are actually appealing to the Government to support our local businesses because they are failing, sometimes due to capital shortages. There is quite a lot of potential on the textile industry. One of our factories recently closed down due to shortage of income, hence we urge the Government to come up with deliberate policies.”
Mr Charewa blamed producers of cotton lint who opt to serve the export market leaving local producers without adequate supplies. He also encouraged players in the industry to support President Mnangagwa’s drive to transform industry in line with the philosophy that “Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabaninilo\Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo”.
He said local production of textile products is also shrinking, citing that the industry used to have more players but has declined, a move that shows that there is a missing link that needs to be developed in a bid to make the industry vibrant.
“It’s a challenge that I’m giving the responsible authorities to support deliberately our industry so that it can create employment for our own people. We are saying we are ready to work, give us the support,” said Mr Charewa.
Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes, Dr Joram Gumbo, who recently toured the factory condemned the importation of second-hand clothes saying these were having far-reaching negative consequences on the economy especially on the cotton sector.
“I refer here to the closure of clothing factories, wholesalers and retailers due to reduced sales. Spinning industries have also been affected and cotton farmers have not been spared due to the drastic fall in cotton producer prices,” said the minister. [email protected]