The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) Matabeleland Chapter has re-elected Mr Joseph Gunda as its president for another term to steer a turnaround strategy for Bulawayo industries.

After re-election during an annual general meeting held this week, the General Beltings General Manager [Mr Gunda] vowed to ride on the special economic zones (SEZs) initiative to bring back the economic status of Bulawayo as manufacturing hub.

“My belief is that the SEZs will bring positive developments in the city and will certainly bring it back to its original status of being a manufacturing hub. We are working hard to improve on our quality and internal efficiencies as companies. We believe that such initiatives should be embraced and on our part build upon them so that we don’t rely on protection going forward,” said Mr Gunda.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) pledged to be with the CZI Matabeleland Chapter in every step by continuing to support industries with soft loans for the retooling exercise.

“We are saying banks should lend out at 7.5% interest per annum, turnovers being 12 months for working capital and 36 months for capital expenditure. We are also aware of reluctance of banks to disburse soft loans, so the RBZ is looking into ways and means of using different models to encourage our industry players to access these facilities,” said Mr Kasanda Sibanda, RBZ Bulawayo branch Deputy Director.

Meanwhile, a representative from Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), Mrs Makhosazana Kuture also assured Bulawayo business executives that the revenue authority will continue tightening screws on border points through implementation of the Statutory Instrument (SI) 64.

The unavailability of foreign currency has continued to be a challenge for the manufacturing sector, but hopes are high that the tobacco marketing season will improve the situation as the golden leaf is known for racking in a lot of foreign currency.