Business people in Hwange Demand Inclusion in Local Economic Opportunities

In Hwange, local businesses are disgruntled by exclusion from economic projects happening within the town, for them, this is a violation of the constitution.

The Hwange business community says the current level of participation by local businesses in contracts underway in the coal-mining district is not commensurate with the ten percent local content provisions encouraged by the devolution and empowerment policies of the country.

Their non-participation contributes significantly to the slow pace of infrastructural development in the Hwange district.

Hwange Central Constituency Member of Parliament Honourable Daniel Molokele says most companies contracted in the mining town ‘have no umbilical cord attached to the area’.

“They just come and loot and go back to their homes. They leave the environment damaged and no tangible, useful infrastructure for future projects,” says Molokele.

Molokele has said development in Hwange can be fast-tracked if indigenous businesses take charge.

The Hwange Indigenous Business Association Apex (HIBBA) Secretary-General Elia Mutali says that indigenous businesses’ marginalisation defies the country’s constitutional provisions.

Mutali says there has been a broadening of the definition of ten percent local input to justify the engagement of companies based outside the district at the expense of the Hwange district-based indigenous companies.

As a result, the local businesses have had very little or no business interaction with most of the district’s economic drivers, particularly the Chinese controlled companies.

“It seems clear that the procurement policies aim to minimise the participation of local companies by offering sub-economic prices for services, or they are skewed towards players from outside the district. This has resulted in the frustration of locals to a point where they no longer bother themselves engaging these organisations,” he says.

Mutali says the companies such as the Kwidini sand companies could provide sand to any construction tender in Hwange rather than contracting a sand company from Kwekwe to provide sand for the expansion project at Hwange Power Station.

“As an example, at 40 percent completion, the district, its indigenous businesses and the populace at large had not realised any tangible benefits from the US$4,8 million accruing to it.

The indigenous business body representative has appealed to all the district’s economic drivers’ management teams to play a leading role in sustainably developing and empowering the locals.

“The situation where the locals are spectators, instead of participants of economic activities within their proximity is simply unacceptable,” says Mutali.

Mutali says if local companies are given a chance, there is a 100 percent anticipated local participation in companies that deal in security, river sand/pit sand services, quarry stone, construction, equipment hire and transport services.

However, the Greater Hwange Residents Fidelis Chima says that although the indigenous business companies are pointing out valid points on devolution, there is also a need for an effective devolution bill.

“The constitution of Zimbabwe have provisions that speak on devolution, but for these provisions to be effective, there is a need of an effective Devolution Bill, so 10 percent local content does not have legal effect, legally the concerns of the indigenous business community do not hold water,” says Chima.

Chima encouraged local business companies in Hwange to create businesses opportunities and become innovative than waiting for big companies to contract them.

Hwange district boast of energy companies that play a pivotal role in contributing to the country’s economy, but it is one of the district’s lagging when it comes to development.

Source: The Citizen Bulletin

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