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MUTARE: Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, Thursday, came face-to-face with reality when he was welcomed by heaps of scrap metal during his tour of the Nyakamete industrial site in the eastern border city.
Once a hub of manufacturing, Nyakamete has been reduced to a scrap yard.
Companies such as Mutare Board and Paper Mills which used to be a huge exporter of newsprint in the region and a major employer have now been reduced to sadza canteens.
Mphoko, who was accompanied by energy minister Samuel Undenge and provincial affairs minister Mandi Chimene, toured struggling Cairns Holding, Kenrose filters, Quest Motors and Feruka Refinery.
Cairns which used to be a major exporter of canned food, is now a pale of shadow of former self, operating at 30 percent capacity.
Machinery at the company is in a sorry state with workers still using manual obsolete equipment to pack jam and baked beans.
Operations manager, Joseph Mavu explained to Mphoko that Cairns has the capacity to regain its lost glory provided government gives them adequate support for retooling so that they become competitive on the global market.
He said the influx of cheap imports was a major challenge in their quest to revive their operations.Mavu cited the influx of cereals such as Bokoma and Kellogs from South Africa on the local market as a major impediment to the growth of the local industry.
“Government should do something about the influx of imports on the market. Our local shops are buying in South Africa at the expense of local market.
“We have to promote local market if we are to create employment and boost our economy,” said Kwenda.
He said they have recently shipped equipment from China and are expecting to increase production at the end of the year.
Look east policy
Mphoko also visited Kenrose Filters where the owner pleaded with government to rethink about its “Look East Policy”, saying it did not bring the desired results.
Kenrose Director, Kenny Dziruni told Mphoko that it was high time government re-engaged Western countries as trading partners.
“Vice President, the Chinese are not honest to deal with. I procured my machinery from them but they took three years to be deliver.
“I had to fly to China but I could not get much assistance to recover my money.
“The Chinese are not straight forward business partners. They delivered an obsolete machine whose manual is not written in English.
“I bought my other machines from Germany 10 years ago and they are still in good condition. We need to go back to the West because they are good partners,” said Dziruni.
He also blasted the local Chinese owned diamond mining company Anjin Investments for bringing filters from China at the expense of local companies.
“I am sitting on stockpiles of filters for heavy machinery but there are no takers. Anjin is importing everything even maids. Government has to stop all these if the local industry is to be revived,” said Dziruni.
Dziruni also said parastatals such as the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) still owe him some money after they procured over 4,000 filters before the dollarisation period and never paid a single cent.
Mphoko promised to make a follow up with relevant authorities.
The VP then toured Quest Motors where he was told the same story of low uptake of locally assembled vehicles.
Quest boss Terik Adams told Mphoko that it was sad that organisations such as the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and other government departments continue to import vehicles.
“We have buses, trucks and light vehicles but the uptake is very low.
“Local companies continue to import. Government should come up with a policy to protect the local car manufacturing industry to save jobs and create employment,” said Adams.
Manicaland Business Action Group representative, Charles Tawazadza, who was part of the tour, said while the province was a hub for timber, it was sad that cheap board timber was being imported from China.
This was the fourth tour of the Mutare industrial site by a top government official.
Industry minister Mike Bimha and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority chief Gesham Pasi toured early this year while axed presidential affairs minister Didymus Mutasa toured before the July 2013 elections.
They all promised to assist in the revival of industry but to date nothing has materialised. source-newzimbabwe