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VICE President Emmerson Mnangagwa claimed Saturday that the government has several deals in its pocket to revive collapsed Bulawayo industries, adding that the city’s water problems would also soon end with the implementation of long-mooted Zambezi water project.

While officiating at the opening of a wholesale business owned by Bulawayo businessman and long-time Zanu PF benefactor, Raj Modi, last month, Mnangagwa said the government plans to resuscitate Bulawayo industries in time for the 2018 general elections.

“I am aware that Bulawayo is the hub of industry in this county but the level of industry has gone down. We are making every effort to resuscitate the industry before the 2018 general elections so that perhaps we will win,” he said then.

But there are elections scheduled for this Wednesday and Bulawayo is up for grabs after the opposition MDC parties, which have long held the city, decided to boycott the vote.

And to drum up support for the ruling Zanu PF party’s five candidates in the province, Mnangagwa addressed a rally Saturday at White City Stadium where he made new and apparently more substantive promises.

Once the country’s industrial hub, Bulawayo has been brought to its knees by the economic crisis of the last 15 years which saw several companies closing down while those remaining, including the state-owned NRZ have not paid staff for nearly a year.

Before Zanu PF’s land reforms helped trigger the economic meltdown, Bulawayo had always struggled with unreliable water supplies.

There was no progress in the proposed Zambezi water project either due to lack of funding but Mnangagwa told supporters that South Africa had agreed to finance the development.

“South Africa sent their Minister of Water who met and convinced (Minister Saviour) Kasukuwere on their proposal,” said the vice president.

“They want to work with us to get water from the Zambezi. They will give us money, which we will use to implement the Zambezi Water Project.

“That project will pass through this region, going to South Africa with South Africa paying us for the water.

“Matabeleland region will also benefit from the project, and water problems in Bulawayo will be addressed.”

He also said the government had agreed deals with companies from other African countries as well as Asia to revive Bulawayo companies.

The struggling Cold Storage Company, for instance, could start exporting to Equatorial Guinea where President Robert Mugabe’s friend President Teodoro Nguema Mbasogo is reportedly keen on Zimbabwean beef.

“When President Mugabe went to Nigeria for the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari, he also visited Equatorial Guinea where he held talks with his friend, President Teodoro Nguema Mbasogo,” he said.

“Equatorial Guinea is a very rich small country, which has a lot of oil. President Mugabe’s friend expressed they would want beef from Zimbabwe and he said yes.

“At the moment, they are getting their meat from Argentina. On Thursday, we had a Cabinet meeting and we agreed to inject money to revive (meat processor) the Cold Storage Company.”

He added: “We would want to capture that market we have been given by Equatorial Guinea. Instead of them getting their meat from Argentina, they should start getting it from us.

“After injecting money into CSC, we will create employment and resuscitate the beef industry in Zimbabwe.

“This region has a conducive environment for cattle-ranching and when we revive the beef industry, it will come with a lot of downstream benefits.”

Source : New Zimbabwe