Import ban increases capacity of Zimbabwean companies – Buy Zimbabwe

THE Buy Zimbabwe campaign, which was setup to promote locally manufactured products, on Wednesday (yesterday) says the country’s capacity utilisation had increased up to 15 percent, because of Statutory Instrument SI 64 which prohibits the importation of certain products.

In an interview with ANA at the sidelines of the launch of a mining and handbook launch in Harare, Buy Zimbabwe Chief Executive Officer, Munyaradzi Hwengwere, says that some companies in the country had reached 100 percent capacity utilisation.

“It’s a combination of SI 64 as well as import management by the RBZ and I think there is creative capacity for local companies to produce because limited competition externally give an opportunity here. You know there are some companies actually who now have a 100 percent increase in capacity utilisation,” he says.

He said the monitoring and evaluation committee where Buy Zimbabwe sat with the Minister of Industry and Commerce was working on getting more specific data.

“One of the things that we are trying to do now is to get actual data that is more specific, sector by sector on what has happened, not just with SI 64 but with all other import management programmes that have happened, what has been the increase in implements, what has been the increase in capacity utilisation, where are those companies going forward and what have been the constraints,” he said.

Hwengwere refuted assertions that local products were more expensive than some imported products, saying it was a generalised statement.

“Of course there are some local companies that are expensive but there are also some local companies that have become very competitive,” he said.

“You can see what is happening within the sector, because there are many companies that are now seeing opportunities, a lot of companies that are seeing that there is a local company whose price is not good and they are seeing an opportunity so they come and set up.”

He said besides just promoting local companies, Buy Zimbabwe was also working to stimulate local competition to ensure companies compete against each other locally, which would result in lower prices.

Hwengwere castigated manufacturers who were alleged to be demanding cash upfront from retailers, who were in turn forced to also demand cash for basic products such as cooking oil and soap.

“We must do everything possible to discourage the practice of demanding hard cash from retailers, that is a self defeatist attitude because what we are looking for is sales, but a lot of people are too fixated on cash instead of trading,” he said.

He said they were currently engaging the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to come up with a joint campaign for the use of plastic money.

“We need concerted efforts to campaign for the use of plastic money. Why should you want cash if you can operate in a cashless society,” he said.

“I was and I saw a guy from South Africa who wanted to buy fuel and the guys refused, a lot of service stations in that area are refusing to take plastic money, what for, they are the ones who don’t generate any foreign currency; all the money that they get they take out of the country and yet they do not realise that they are the first to be dependent on a functional banking system.”

There was need for conscientising Zimbabweans that the most important thing was trading and not holding cash, saying it was also important to build confidence among trading partners.

“So i think it’s something where stakeholders need to come together and then say let’s make sure the bulk of our payments are done without having to resort to cash,” he said.

An annual manufacturing survey conducted by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) revealed that capacity utilisation had gone up from 34.3 percent last year to 47.4 percent as a resulted of the implementation of the SI 64. The country’s capacity utilisation declined drastically in the past two decades mainly because of the collapse of the agriculture sector, which supplied the manufacturing sector with most of its raw materials. – ANA