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No Respite for Financially-Troubled Bulawayo Companies

At least six companies closed down in Bulawayo last week as industries in Zimbabwe's second largest city continue to grapple with liquidity problems.

Business executives and representatives of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said some of the affected companies include Belma Private Limited, Spearhead Timbers, Durawood (Pvt) Ltd and several others.

Government set up a $40 million rescue package last year to avail loans to struggling industries but the Distressed and Marginalized Areas Fund (DMAF) has been crippled by state bureaucratic bungling and political machinations by some key stakeholders in the coalition government.

Workers are worried about the high rate of unemployment in the city believed to be just over 90 percent.

About 20,000 workers were retrenched last year following the shutting down of over 80 firms, mostly in the manufacturing sector. More than 5,000 workers have lost their jobs so far during the past eight months.

The unemployment rate in Zimbabwe is believed to be more than 86 percent.

Bulisani Ncube, city businessman and former regional manager of the Bulawayo Chamber of Commerce, told VOA company closures in the city are set to continue because industries are facing serious liquidity challenges.

Ncube challenged labor unions to continue pushing for government intervention as he believes they have not done enough.

President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) George Nkiwane expressed concern and dissappointment over the on-going Bulawayo company closures.

Nkiwane said labor unions such as the ZCTU would continue pushing for "a real solution for the city's industrial crisis".
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