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Editorial Comment – Govt Support for Looting Victims Praiseworthy

The recent three day national “shutdown” organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and its allies — the MDC-Alliance and some Western-sponsored non-governmental organisations — had far reaching devastating effects on businesses countrywide and some of them might not rise again if there is no timely intervention.

The opposition forces unleashed an orgy of violence countrywide that was characterised by plundering and looting of retail shops in mainly Harare’s high-density suburbs, with Bulawayo reportedly affected the most.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) says the economy might have lost business amounting to $300 million over the three-day forced shut-down that left a trail of destruction.

As we report elsewhere in this issue, a Cabinet committee has so far assessed damage to property to the tune of $25 million.

It is against this backdrop that Government should be saluted for coming to the rescue of the desperate companies on Tuesday when Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced the setting up of a Cabinet ad hoc committee to assess the level of damage to infrastructure and the quantum of losses incurred.

Companies and individuals that lost property to the marauding demonstrators have been plunged into serious financial challenges since the insurance firms do not compensate anything destroyed during riots.

Said Minister Mutsvangwa: “Cabinet noted the need to bring urgent relief to the communities and businesses affected by the recent violent demonstrations and approved that a special fund be set up for that purpose. The ad hoc committee was tasked to expeditiously work out the finer details and modalities of the fund and to report back at the next Cabinet meeting.”

The committee has already hit the ground running and teams have already been deployed to start work on affected areas. When this happens, it is our sincere hope that the affected businesses will be honest enough to disclose the extent of the damage and losses suffered and we do not expect to hear cases of businesspeople who are going to exaggerate losses.

When such cases occur records of stock and other goods are destroyed and helpers depend on the information supplied by the victims. This is why we implore the affected members to be honest enough because the funds are meant to assist many businesses to recover after suffering such huge losses.

We also implore bodies such as the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce that is visiting the country’s manufacturing sector to appreciate the challenges it contends with, so as to prod Government to intervene with matching solutions, to also help in compiling information on affected companies.

The country is weighed down by a plethora of challenges and it is our submission that some friendly institutions should also come and assist Government and help these innocent businesspeople who were looted by the opposition forces to realise their dreams again. Surely the Government cannot go it alone given the magnitude of losses.

Moving forward, what happened last month was not an act of God and the people responsible for organising these demonstrations are known and they must take responsibility of their actions.

The assistance Government is organising for these affected companies is not free money, but taxpayers contributions and therefore we cannot allow the organisers to go scot-free.

In future, we encourage the affected people to mount a class action for the courts to compel the organisers of such demonstrations to compensate the affected people.

The protesters should know it takes a great deal of sacrifice for someone to establish a business and we cannot watch someone’s investment being wasted.

Source : The Herald

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