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Zimbabwe's Mineral Wealth Should be Used to Revive Struggling Firms, Says Mugabe

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe says the southern African country should use proceeds from its mining sector to revive collapsing industries in the nation's second largest city, Bulawayo.

Mr. Mugabe said this as treasury finally released $10 million as part of its contribution to the Distressed and Marginalized Areas Fund for boosting firms crippled by lack of capital.

President Mugabe is quoted in the state-controlled Herald newspaper as saying diamond and other mineral proceeds can play a crucial role in curbing the closure of the city’s industries.

He said he's dismayed by reports that treasury had not yet released $20 million as part of its contribution towards the $40 million fund set up last year with Old Mutual Insurance Company to help struggling firms in the country.

Industry Minister Welshman Ncube announced Thursday that treasury had released part of the funds last Tuesday.

According to the Central African Building Society which is handling the fund, at least $3.1 million has been disbursed to 10 companies out of 49 applicants nationwide.

Urging the speedy release of the remaining funds, Percy Mcijo, Matabeleland regional manager of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, said workers are suffering while politicians are bickering over the disbursement of the fund.

More than 20,000 workers have been left jobless between 2009 and this year following the closure of 80 companies in the City of Kings.