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The Zimbabwe Building Contractors Association (ZBCA) has rejected market perception that the quality of workmanship by local contractors is second rate.

ZBCA argued that professionalism was being practiced by players in the sector and noted that a significant number of its membership matched the quality of work by established foreign firms.

ZBCA president, Obert Sibanda however said it was important for Zimbabweans to promote local contractors who demonstrated the ability to produce high quality work, as the industry gears to support the government’s economic blueprint, Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZIM-ASSET).

Sibanda said there were several areas in the sector that still required scrutiny as well as being demystified.

These included the perception that the majority of work carried out by local contractors was poor.

But he said it was important for players in the industry to register with professional associations if standards in the industry were to improve.

“There is a misconception that indigenous building contractors do not provide good service but we are saying good service comes with good support,” the ZBCA president said.

He was speaking at a stakeholder meeting in Harare last week that discussed several issues to promote the sector.

“We urge government and the private sector to help us grow together,” he said.

He emphasised the need for the industry to pull in one direction and play its part in economic recovery.

The ZBCA boss added that the construction industry was an epitome of the country’s economic development.

“(It is) the first one to suffer and the last to recover when things go bad,” he said.

“In this respect, he said, it was important for the construction sector to be more vocal as it was one of the few sectors that cut across all the four pillars of the country’s economic blueprint, ZIM-ASSET,” a statement released by ZBCA after the meeting said.

“The construction industry is responsible for infrastructural development as we develop roads, buildings and other infrastructure. But we are also into food and nutrition, because we develop dams, farms and support infrastructure that is used to produce food for the people. We support value-addition and beneficiation, because we are the ones who construct factories and buildings where processing of minerals takes place. In terms of social services and poverty eradication we are the ones who build schools, hospitals and other social amenities, so in terms of ZIM-ASSET we are supposed to be the leading sector,” the statement quoted Sibanda as saying.

He said the industry was saddled with several challenges, which he said government had to act on to save jobs and sector firms.

Among the challenges were issues to do with unfair tendering procedures for government work by foreign contractors as well as the issue of taxation by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA).

ZBCA launched the Zimbabwe Building and Construction Industry annual directory as well as a small to medium scale enterprises (SME) desk at last week’s meeting.

The SME desk will be tasked with assisting members in tendering for jobs as well as management training programmes.

“Presenting comments on the way forward for the industry, the ZBCA senior vice president Ramson Nherera said all stakeholders should consider ZBCA members in their tenders, a proposal that was also backed by Gideon Mukorombindo, president of the Zimbabwe Institute of Quantity Surveyors who agitated for “preferential treatment” for all indigenous contractors on local projects,” the statement said.

The desk is also expected to look into the issue of gender mainstreaming in the construction industry.

ZBCA also launched an industry magazine.

The ZBCA is a non-profit membership-based national association registered in 1992 in terms of Section 33 of the Labour Relations Act to represent indigenous building contractors in the categories of building and civil, as well as electrical, mechanical and structural steel engineering fields.

Suppliers to the industry are also registered as associate members.

ZBCA is governed by a constitution that provides for a board of directors known as the national executive committee.

Source : Financial Gazette