Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
THERE have been mixed fortunes for Bulawayo businesses, a year after they suffered huge losses following the looting and destruction of their premises during illegal opposition protests.
Bulawayo was the worst hit city in the country by the looting and destruction that resulted in the death of a police officer.
Government subsequently provided loans to those affected to resuscitate their businesses.
In an interview yesterday, Association of Business in Zimbabwe (ABUZ) chief executive officer Mr Victor Nyoni said most businesses have stabilised after receiving Government loans.
“The information that we have gathered as ABUZ is that most of them managed to get funds from Government. They have addressed most of the losses that they suffered. However, I should also mention that there are those that have not been compensated, those are still facing problems but they are not in the majority,” said Mr Nyoni.
“I must also mention that ABUZ represents mainly manufacturers while the people who were affected are retailers and through that chain our members were affected. You might as well know that the stock that was looted and even destroyed did not belong to retailers but wholesalers and manufacturers. So, in turn they owed those manufacturers and wholesalers and I’m aware that most of them have been paid.”
Mr Nyoni said it was unfortunate that some people lost their jobs as a result of the violence.
He said the looting was a lesson to the business community to have cordial relations with communities they operate from.
“We know that some businesses were not looted on the basis of the relationship with the community and some were affected more on the basis of how businesspeople interacted with the community. For instance, employing people from the locality and being able to attend to certain infrastructure around the community, all of those things can help to improve rapport between the business and the community,” he said.
Speaking on the same issue, Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Judith Ncube said Government was pleased to have assisted some of the businesses to go back on track.
She admitted that some of the business owners had not been assisted citing financial challenges.
“We have not managed to assist all of them but with the little resources that we get, we have managed to attend to most of them. These are loans, some of them have paid back the funds. It’s a revolving fund meaning when one business person pays up, the fund goes to the next person. As a Minister I’m so happy with the progress and commitment since last year,” she said.
Cde Ncube said Bulawayo residents must introspect so that the city does not suffer again from violence.
“Bulawayo solutions should come from people in Bulawayo. No one would do it for us,” said Cde Ncube. — @nqotshili