Zimbabwe: The timing is just not right

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“The intention itself is good,” Julius Shamu said on prime TV, watched by millions. “But they could have introduced tariffs, rather than a total ban on the import of foreign products.”

 

skynewszimbabwe.com

President Robert Mugabe’s government had bungled the timing in imposing a ban on Zimbabweans importing basic goods from South Africa.

The Zimbabwe South Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Zimsacci) said last night that the Zimbabwean government could have exhausted policy and regulation options before imposing a total ban, and that the timing of the ban on imports could have been handled with caution.

Zimsacci President Julius Shamu told ENCA last night that it would be difficult for Zimbabwe to extricate itself from the impugned decision, as rank-and-file traders had already made their feelings known over the unwanted enforcement of regulations.

“We are worried about the timing of the new regulations that were imposed by the Minister (and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority). The timing is just not right. The industry in Zimbabwe is not producing at the moment to the capacity where everybody is able to access the basic necessities,” said Shamu.

Zimsacci represents a total of 235 South African businesses that operate in Zimbabwe.

The organisation said it believed that Zimbabwe’s ban on foreign imports was a mistake, and that closer consultations between the Zimbabwean government, and organisations representing Zimbabweans Living in South Africa could have made a difference in the decision making.

Shamu said apart from the bad timing, and it was going to be difficult for the Zimbabwean government to manage the enforcement of regulations under statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 which is aimed at controlling the importation of South African goods which are available in Zimbabwe.

“The intention itself is good,” Shamu said on prime TV, watched by millions. “But they could have introduced tariffs, rather than a total ban on the import of foreign products.”

After a few days of disastrous politics in which furious traders set fire to a Zimra warehouse at Beit Bridge, and tensions spilled over into open riots in Harare and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe is frantically trying to contain a deep political crisis sparked by a cocktail of grievances, and a general deterioration of living conditions among the citizenry.

Analysts told ENCA that even without a ban on importation of goods that can be sourced in Zimbabwe, it was extremely difficult for South African businesses (or indeed Zimbabweans themselves) to make decent returns in Zimbabwe, as it was a tough market to crack.

“A lot companies have done very badly, and a lot of the company results have been particularly weak for their Zimbabwean units. Pick n Pay has done quite well, they are benefitting from a strong US dollar economy, but this will also be a big hit on them because a lot of the stock is coming from South Africa,” said Dianna Games, CEO of Africa @ Work.

ENCA’s Malungelo Booi reported that despite several attempts by ENCA to speak to the department of trade and industry, the South African government had still not issued an official comment on the banning of South African made products, or their export to Zimbabwe.

Harare wants to force Zimbabweans to buy locally in order to kick-start the local economy and employment, but Zimbabweans are increasingly restive as most of the banned products are extremely difficult to source, or are simply expensive and beyond the reach of the poor majority.

This coupled with crippling shortages of cash, dwindling exports and a tanking economy has fueled tensions which culminated in the riots widely reported over the past days.

Zimsacci is a non-profit organisation that promotes Zimbabwean business growth in South Africa and beyond. It’s vision is to be a leading development, training and advocacy organisation, aimed at building solid business partnerships for industry and commerce.

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Its mission is to provide a hub of knowledge and business through accountable and diligent research, and to serve its members, partners and associates to meet and do business, and to coordinate resources that facilitate success through exercising best practices in trade.

Zimsacci has gained prominence in South Africa through speaking for South African businesses doing business in Zimbabwe, and for Zimbabwean businesspeople in South Africa.

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Zimsacci is a non-profit organisation that promotes Zimbabwean business growth in South Africa and beyond.

 

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Zimsacci has gained prominence in South Africa through speaking for South African businesses doing business in Zimbabwe, and for Zimbabwean businesspeople in South Africa

 

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The organisation’s voice and opinion on public policy has become influential on issues affecting business communities through its efforts to facilitate business growth by encouraging economic growth and community development.

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