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City firms shut down

A number of Bulawayo companies are closing down due to the intensifying economic problems, leaving thousands of workers stranded, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has warned.

Ambrose Sibindi, the ZCTU western region chairman, said company closures had thrown many workers into poverty as they were losing their sources of income.

"Things are very bad for the Bulawayo industry, not much production is taking place," Sibindi said.

"The few companies that are operating have scaled down and some have reduced the number of working hours.

"In some cases this is due to fuel shortages especially in the transport industry.

"In terms of renumeration, workers are paid far below the poverty datum line with most of them getting a paltry $1 300 per month."

Zimbabwe's poverty datum line for an average family of five was in November last year pegged at $3 700.

The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency is yet to release the latest figures, but prices continue to skyrocket as the local currency depreciates.

Sibindi said the ZCTU western region would on February 25 host a labour forum at its Bulawayo offices for workers to discuss the problems affecting companies based in the city.

Sibindi said most firms they had engaged cited foreign currency shortages as one of their major challenges.

"Generally the future is very bleak in terms of improved operations and production," he added.

"Companies are scaling down operations and they are reducing the workforce, which is raising the rate of unemployment and bringing more misery to most residents."

According to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries' 2019 Manufacturing Sector Survey, industry's capacity utilisation stands at 27%, but Sibindi said the situation was worse in Bulawayo.

"The reality is that industry in Bulawayo operates around 20% of the potential capacity taking into consideration company closures, retrenchments and scaling down of operations," he said.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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