F/town turns to Bulawayo

SHARE   |   Sunday, 26 July 2015   |   By Shingirai Madondo

In a move that passes to prove just how dedicated the City of Francistown is to the issue of investment, the country’s second largest city recently wooed investors in Bulawayo to consider investing in Francistown.

Francistown has entered into a twinning arrangement with the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) in a move envisaged to attract investment to the city. Under-industrialization has in the past decade substituted the once thriving industry in Zimbabwe’s second largest city.

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Industrial units in Bulawayo has been reduced to mere monuments as most companies have either relocated to other cities or completely shut down, leaving thousands jobless due to the economic meltdown and general liquidity crunch.

A combination of a poisoned political environment and economic uncertainty in the neighboring country has resulted in many investors shunning the once breadbasket of Africa that has been turned into a basket case itself.

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Though boasting of a population of nearly 15million people as at the 2011 census, Zimbabwe has been shunned by the West for its political instability and controversial indigenization policy that compels companies to surrender a 51% stake of their shares to locals.

In a move aimed at taking full advantage of the unfavorable business climate in the neighboring country, the City of Francistown is seemingly positioning itself in the rightful position to accommodate investors from Bulawayo.

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“This vision of inviting investors into the city (of Francistown) is an open one. Particularly, if it is for our sister friends like yourselves, if you have got investors or you are investors yourselves or want to partner with us, it is a most welcome development,” wooed the City of Francistown mayor Sylvia Muzila during a dinner organized for the Bulawayo delegation.

Although Muzila could not be drawn into discussing suggestions that there are a number of investors willing to leave Bulawayo to Francistown, this publication is reliably informed that Francistown wants to take advantage of the situation.

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Information reaching this publication is that a sizeable number of renowned old and new investors are looking for areas where they can set up their businesses and access the Zimbabwean market.

“Zimbabwe is ideal for business because of her population. However, the political situation is bad while Francistown and Botswana in general is good for business but less population. Now Francistown is ideal for those willing to access the Bulawayo market,” said a source.

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Muzila also said the Francistown should fully utilize the advantage of the short distance between Francistown and Bulawayo. If it was not for the immigration formalities at the Ramokgwebana and Plumtree border posts, Muzila said the distance would be a two-hour drive.

“Having only that type of a distance between ourselves, we should utilize it as much as possible to improve our economic situations. We want to be a investment centre of choice by the year 2022,” said Muzila.

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