President backs import controls Says measures to boost economy
PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday backed import controls under Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 saying the measures were meant to correct trade imbalance and boost domestic production.
Zimbabwe, reduced to a market for cheap imports over the years, has suffered a heavy economic blow evidenced by the demise of local firms and loss of jobs, said the President while addressing the nation at the National Heroes Acre in Harare to mark Heroes Day.
Acknowledging concerns over the negative state of the economy and the outcry by traders and individuals, he said the new measures, coupled with doing business reforms that are already underway, were meant to buttress economic growth and reposition Zimbabwe in the global economy.
“The manufacturing sector would be generally stable on the back of these measures, which would be reviewed from time to time. Already some notable investments have been made in edible oils, milk powder, drinks and beverages and clothing and footwear,” said President Mugabe.
The Statutory Instrument removes 42 products from the open general import licence, restricting their importation to Zimbabwe, after realisation that local firms have the capacity to produce them.
Among the controlled products are coffee creamers, camphor creams, white petroleum jellies, body lotions, building and hardware materials, lock gates, lattice masts and doors.
President Mugabe further explained that the S.I. was meant to assist growth of local producers as he quashed pessimists’ views that the measures would cripple businesses operations.
Industry bodies such as the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) and the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), have also applauded the import restrictions.
The President bemoaned loss of market for local farm produce such as tomatoes and others, which he said were rotting because there was no market as some consumers prefer cheap produce from South Africa.
He said imports from South Africa, the country’s largest trading partner, for instance, were cheaper because their currency was weakening against the strong US dollar.
“We see cheap products flooding our market. What about our own producers. Do we let them lose or we support them?” he said.
The President said local farmers were losing business to cheap horticultural imports from South Africa and poultry products from countries such as Brazil.
“We say no. We have a lot of chickens here, eggs are plenty and also beef. This is the kind of protection that S.I. 64 seeks to achieve,” he said.
The President blasted activists such as controversial pastor Evan Mawarire, who out of ignorance, are inciting revolt against the Government to cause instability while demanding opening of borders.
“There is no country in this world that does not protect itself. All countries do not allow cheap products to dominate their market. That is what we call dumping and we don’t want dumping in our country,” he said drawing applause from thousands of people at the shrine.
President Mugabe said importation of second hand clothes should be restricted as they were stifling viability of local clothing manufacturing companies.
Last week Industry and Commerce Minister Cde Mike Bimha visited South Africa for a discussion on bilateral trade and economic cooperation talks where he apprised his neighbouring counterpart, Mr Rob Davies, on the background to the present state of industry and circumstances leading to the restrictions.