Turn crisis into opportunity, looted businesses urged

The office of the Minister of State for Bulawayo Metropolitan has challenged looted businesses, which are rebuilding to innovate their infrastructures and change the face of the city’s retail sector.

This challenge follows the launch of the $30 million loan facility by the government to provide capital to looted businesses across the country to repair their infrastructure and restock.

Bulawayo, which suffered most of the damage during the protests requires about $19.5 million to recover, while most businesses out of the total 181 that were looted were uninsured.

Some companies had already sent in their submissions to government for assistance unknowingly that they were supposed to pay back.

However, it is yet to be established how many companies will apply for the government loan as some retailers had on their own begun restocking or rebuilding their shops before this intervention was made available.

“We are encouraged as a province by the response that we have received as the province which suffered the most. We’ve heard people coming through to the office with very encouraging statements such as ‘Minister, we have begun building, we have begun restocking, we have put in new equipment,” said personal secretary to Minister of state for Bulawayo Metropolitan, Agnes Phuti.

“We applaud people of Bulawayo as even before government set up this initiative (the $30 million fund) those whose properties had been razed to the ground by people who have no pride as Zimbabweans were already rebuilding and they deserve praise for that spirit of rebuilding.”

Phuti added that the challenge now was not only to rebuild shops but do so in a way that enhanced the face of the city’s retail sector.

“As a city, we are looking to improve so we would encourage those businesses that when this assistance becomes available, rather than having a vision of rebuilding what was lost, there must be the vision of innovating and changing the face of what retail industry looked like from before January 14 to 16 to afterwards. This can be a story told to generations to come that once upon a time in 2019, the city suffered such great losses however as people we managed to stand up, rebuild and look at where we are today,” Phuti noted.

The office of the minister of state for Bulawayo said the city also suffered losses that cannot be enumerated as they negatively impacted on peoples’ livelihood and health.

“Events of January 14 to 16, 2019 affected us the most suffered. We suffered losses that are not in the figure of the $19.5 million but people suffered loses that cannot be enumerated. We received reports of people’s health that suffered. We have women – grandmothers whose source of income was disrupted by these events, whose dependents were therefore affected. For example, children whose school fees emanated from these shops which were destroyed.

“Therefore, as a province, we make a statement to say that we appreciate the rebuilding. People of Bulawayo are resilient and now that we have the government coming to assist we can speak with confidence that in a very short while, the situation will not only return to what they were but will be better,” said the minister’s assistant.

While launching the loan facility, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mangaliso Ndlovu also encouraged the local businesses to enhance their security so as to withstand attacks of a similar nature.

“On the reconstruction, we agreed that funds permitting on the budget, we need to try and put a facelift to the buildings that were destroyed also making sure that they are much safer and withstand similar disturbances. In addition, we must provide proper vending facilities within the vicinity, we hope to take advantage of this crisis and turn it into an opportunity,” he said.

Meanwhile, the breakdown of the $19.5 million which was compiled by a local committee overseen by the minister of state for Bulawayo was as follows:

In Entumbane 45 shops were affected, the value of total damage of infrastructure was $4 139 507.95

Emakhandeni – 10 shops need $388 152.56

Luveve had seven shops destroyed to cost of $1 356 798.76

23 shops in Cowdray Park were damaged at a cost of $2 048 455.80

In Magwegwe 12 shops destroyed to $357 553.07

16 shops in Pumula damaged to $2 651 570.18

Tshabalala had 10 shops destroyed at a cost of $102 431.84

In Nketa 11 shops damaged to the tune of $321 426.45

Nkulumane had 26 shops destroyed to the value of $3 104 703.35

In Sizinda two shops worth $15 321.60 were destroyed.

Lobengula four shops destroyed to $3 569 011.38

Emganwini had three shops looted with goods worth $41 951.70

Mpopoma four shops damaged at cost of $24 649.82 while Iminyela one shop was looted to the tune of $11 057

Mabuthweni two shops destroyed at $41 951 and in Njube one shop looted for $30 000.

At Kelvin Industrial site, some grain millers were affected and a wholesaler Hamara to tune of $906 587.72.

The estimated value of total goods lost was $19.547 883.45


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