BULAWAYO – MDC president Welshman Ncube has said the Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund (DiMAF) still remains the only viable solution to revive Zimbabwe’s industrial hub, Bulawayo.
The highly publicised DiMAF, which was launched under the unity government as a catalyst for the revival of collapsed industry in the second largest city, flopped after government failed to mobilise its $20 million contribution to the $40 million fund, with economic analysts subsequently writing off the bailout as a solution to the city’s industrial woes. The initial $20 million contribution to DiMAF came from Old Mutual.
The stringent terms of accessing funding under DiMAF, plus the $40 million was paltry to address Bulawayo’s challenges
“The DiMAF policy was the perfect answer to the de-industrialisation of Bulawayo,” Ncube, who was in charge of the scheme during his time as Industry and Commerce minister under the GNU told the Daily News.
“That policy remains the best policy for government to put its money where its mouth is because once industry is revived, not only do workers get their jobs back, there is more economic activity, more taxes are paid to government through income tax, VAT etc.”
A recent report by the Industry and Commerce ministry stated that nearly 90 companies have closed shop in Bulawayo, rendering more than 20 000 workers redundant.
Ncube said as long as there is failure to realise that government needs to commit resources beyond putting in place the correct policies, there will always be regression around the issue.
When the current Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha took over, he assured the nation that DiMAF would be reviewed to improve its effectiveness, but to date nothing has been reported.
During his inauguration ceremony in 2013, President Robert Mugabe described Bulawayo as an “industrial scrap yard” and promised that his administration would prioritise turning around the city’s fortunes into an industrial hub once more. But the situation has become worse.