3 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Mining Spurs Construction

Bulawayo Bureau — THE construction sector has continued to maintain its growth momentum on the back of significant investments the mining industry has been registering since 2009. In an interview, the Construction Industry Federation of Zimbabwe president Dr Phillip Chiyangwa said the construction sector was continuing to register marked growth as more players were participating in the industry.

"The construction sector saw a marked growth last year as more and new players came on board.

"Last year, the sector saw a remarkable growth by way of new investment in the mining industry," said Dr Chiyangwa, who could not give statistics off hand.

He said investments in the mining industry created opportunities for new projects for the construction sector.

Dr Chiyangwa said although the construction industry showed signs of a continued growth trajectory, the sector was hampered by funding challenges.

"Access to cheap working capital remains the major challenge facing the construction industry," he said.

He said the sector required access to cheap working capital to retool as most of the equipment was old.

Recently, Cifoz called for Government support and protection in light of stiff competition from foreign contractors.

Zimbabwe's construction industry has been facing financial constraints since the hyperinflationary period and wants the Government to introduce protectionist measures.

The local industry believes the Government, which is a major contractor, was awarding projects to foreign firms, relegating Zimbabweans to manual labourers.

Although the country has Statutory Instrument 171 of 2002 that compels Government to contract locals, some players in the construction industry who preferred not to be named told Herald Business that the statutory instrument was not being adhered to by the State Procurement Board.

"The statutory instrument is not being adhered to and this also explains why the locals have lost tenders on Government projects.

"For example, sometime this year when Government intended to build a convention centre to accommodate delegates at the forthcoming United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly, we read in the media that a South African property developer had been given the tender to construct the centre," said an official from a leading construction company.

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