700 Harrae Firms to close

The Zimbabwe independent

By Taurai Mangudhla and Elias Mambo

18 October 2013

Hopes of a quick economic turnaround under the new Zanu PF government appear to be fading even faster as more and more companies close shop, throwing tens of thousands of workers onto the streets to join the teeming ranks of the unemployed estimated at above 88%.

Information gathered by the Zimbabwe Independent this week revealed that scores of big companies that used to employ tens of thousands of workers are either on the verge of collapse or have closed down completely leaving workers stranded.

A July 2013 National Social Security Authority (Nssa) Harare Regional Employer Closures and Registrations Report for the period July 2011 to July 2013 shows 711 companies in Harare closed down, rendering 8 336 individuals jobless.

In addition, many companies are downsizing and have retrenched tens of thousands of their employees, condemning them to a gloomy future.

Major companies that have retrenched include platinum miners Zimplats and Unki, Bindura Nickel, Spar supermarkets, Dairibord, Cairns, Olivine Industries and PG Industries.

Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trades Workers' Union (ZCATWU) general secretary Nicholas Mazarura said their members have experienced intensifying problems since the beginning of this year with Zimplats and Implats platinum mines failing to pay their sub-contractors, resulting in the retrenchment of over 4 000 employees.

"Zimplats alone retrenched close to 2 500 employees in April, while four companies contracted by Implats in Unki have also retrenched workers citing non-payment of wages by Implats," Mazarura said.

"We are experiencing hardships because hundreds of companies are closing shop claiming the liquidity crisis. At the moment, the construction industry is operating at less than 40% production countrywide," he said.

According to the Nssa report, 330 companies in Harare in the retail and other business services category, closed while administration-related businesses also suffered a huge knock with 59 companies closing, with the construction and baking industry losing 42 and 32 companies respectively.

It also indicated that 47 companies shut down in the farming sector while 20 players went under in the printing industry. Zimbabwe's agricultural sector has been struggling to recover from the impact of the 2000 fast-track land reform programme, which disrupted land ownership and tenure.