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Retailers appeal for distress fund

Business Reporter
Retailers have called on Government to establish a distress fund that will help re-capacitate and restock businesses that fell victim to the looting and vandalism that took place during last week’s violent protests.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) President Denford Mutashu, said following the looting and destruction of property, his organisation among others is now dealing with the aftermath to try and see how those who were affected can receive assistance.

“We are dealing with the aftermath to see those who were affected and try and find out how they can get assistance for them to be able to restart operations. Most of them are informal players, independent stores that literally lost everything. So we want them to get an avenue for assistance for them to recover,” said Mr Mutashu.

“Bulawayo was hit the hardest as the retail industry was almost destroyed. As CZR, we are set to go to Bulawayo on Friday (today) to assess the impact on the retailers’ business and there after compile a comprehensive report to be submitted to the ministry of industry,” he said.

Most shops in Bulawayo’s western suburbs were emptied by looters who also destroyed property worth millions of dollars. The looting of shops and destruction of property occurred following violence that broke out after the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions called for a three-day stay away.

Botswana Stock Exchange listed entity Choppies, was one of the hardest hit with chief executive officer Ramachandran Ottopathu reported to have said nine of the company’s “shops in Zimbabwe’s high-density areas were looted, with stock valued at approximately $2,5 million being forcibly taken away by the demonstrators”.

He reportedly said total value of the equipment and assets that were destroyed has been put at close to about $6,5 million.

Mr Mutashu said his confederation is in the process of appealing for a distress fund from the parent Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

“We have engaged with the ministry in various meetings regarding this resuscitation fund. We will compile a report largely for the consumption of the ministry to make informed decisions towards the resuscitation fund.

“From the meetings we had with the ministry, a directive was given that we compile a comprehensive report that Government will use for further action,” said Mr Mutashu adding that the fund will be accessible to both the formal and informal sector so as to avoid the aggressive erosion of businesses that contribute to the economy.

He said there are also concerns about the fate of employees who might lose their jobs.

“The erosion of businesses affected the economy, industry and the employees to a lager extent who find themselves suddenly retrenched as companies are bracing for survival mode and they can no longer shoulder the responsibility of looking after families.”

Businesses in general lost at least $300 million during the three day violent demonstrations organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the opposition MDC Alliance and its NGO associates over fuel prices adjustments.

Source : The Herald

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