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Harare Dispatches Minister to China as Economy Crumbles

Most companies have shut down in cities like Bulawayo, leaving hundreds of workers jobsless. (File Photo)

Harare has dispatched Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha to China ahead of President Robert Mugabe’s visit to that country at the end of the month to seek Chinese investment to help revive Zimbabwe’s struggling economy.

Bimha’s mission follows recent visits to Beijing by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa.

But the visits have so far failed to raise the more than $27 billion that Harare needs to implement its economic blue print, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Social and Economic Transformation (ZIMASSET) to turn around the economy.

Alarm bells are ringing after the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries reported that industrial capacity utilization has gone down to about 30 percent. In 2011, industry capacity utilisation averaged 57% before it dropped to 44% in 2012 and 39,6% in 2013.

Efforts to get a comment from Bimha were futile as his mobile phone went unanswered.

Former CZI president Callisto Jokonya said continued company closures are a cause for serious concern.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary general, Japhet Moyo also told Studio 7 that workers have been left exposed by the company closures.

Meanwhile, CZI is reporting that a total of 10 Bulawayo companies have either been liquidated or placed under judicial management between January and June this year.

According to internet news site, The Source, details it obtained from the Bulawayo High Court show that three companies, Lasker Brothers (Pvt) Ltd, makers of the Archer brand of shirts, Trade Power (Pvt) (Ltd) and Wenbrough, were put under liquidation after they failed to pay debtors and workers millions of dollar.

A survey by CZI says a total of 10 major economically strategic companies have shut down in Manicaland over the past five years while five are operating below capacity.

The CZI survey shows that Mutare Board and Paper Mills, Karina Textiles, Pine Products, Arda Katiyo, Devstar Clothing, Industrial & Domestic Wear, Dairiboard Mutare Factory, Kenge Breweries, Cotton Company of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Coffee have all shut down operations in the region or folded altogether.