Confusion over imports ban

MUTARE - Industry and Commerce permanent secretary Abigail Shonhiwa has contradicted government ministers over the recent ban of imports of some basic commodities saying the removal of selected goods from the open general import licence was only meant for commercial imports and not a blanket ban that would affect individuals.

Shonhiwa told delegates attending the Buy Zimbabwe’s Sixth Annual Buy Local Summit that there was no clarity on the ban hence the confusion which even led to riots in Beitbridge.

“The statutory instrument is for commercial imports. If you are importing in your individual capacity ...(it) should not affect you, but there was no clarity,” she said, adding that government will make a formal announcement soon.

This was after Industry minister Mike Bimha last month evoked Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 (SI 64) to ban the importation of coffee creamers (Cremora), Camphor creams, white petroleum jellies and body creams.

Other basic products on the list include baked beans and potato crisps, cereals, bottled water, mayonnaise, salad cream, peanut butter, jams, maheu, canned fruits and vegetables, pizza base, yoghurts, flavoured milks, dairy juice blends, ice-creams, cultured milk and cheese.

SI 64 also controls importation of second-hand tyres, urea and ammonium nitrate fertilisers, tile adhesives and tylon, shoe polish and synthetic hair products.

Goods categorised as builder-ware products including wheelbarrows (flat pan and concrete pan wheelbarrows), roofing frameworks, pillars, columns, balustrade, shutters, towers, masts, roofs and roofing framework are also part of the restricted list. Flash doors, beds, wardrobes, bedroom and dining room suites, office furniture and specified woven fabrics of cotton were restricted.

However, the government has faced stiff resistance from the majority of people who are surviving on reselling basic commodities they would have imported from neighbouring countries — particularly South Africa. 

But Shonhiwa yesterday defended the ban and said restrictions of free import inflows into the country were one of many efforts meant to facilitate the resuscitation of the catatonic manufacturing sector.

“In order to allow policy space, to allow resuscitation and investments to be made in the manufacturing sector and in any other sector, in an effort to industrialise government has put in place programmes to manage imports and one of these measures has been to remove from the open general import licence of imports that are locally produced,” she said.

Shonhiwa added that the import restrictions were just a stop gap measure to allow industry to find its footing and become more competitive.

“Imports management programmes are not a permanent feature, they are time framed to allow the local production to go through the cycle that would enable them to reach a stage when they will be competitive,” Shonhiwa said.

She also said this was not new but an instrument government has been using for years citing similarly modelled SI 126 of 2014 and SI 138 of 2015.

Government gazetted SI 64.2016, which removed goods that are locally available from Open General Import Licence exemption last month triggering mass protests either side of the Zimbabwe — South Africa Beitbridge Border Post.

While the ban affects mostly South African businesses with its border town of Musina cashing in on the country’s manufacturing failure, Shonhiwa said the measure was not aimed at frustrating South Africa.

Comments (5)

Which industry is this Shonhiwa talking about? Is there any industry left in Zimbabwe to produce those products?

Ziziharinanyanga - 8 July 2016

Indeed which industry are you talking about and to add on that how can a defunct industry become competitive?

mallorytk - 8 July 2016

let them be, they are repealing it slowly, people power

tindo - 8 July 2016

the minister and the the secretary are both lying as what they are saying is not what is actually happening at the border .zimra officials took away cooking oil from individual.i witnessed it on 28 april when a certain man who had one 2litre cooking and a 5kg sugar confiscated by zimra

mandinyanya - 8 July 2016

I understand the reaon why they are banning milk products from being imported. Its because they want to protect the Gushungo holdings products which are facing stiff competition from S.A products. Zim is left with only one industry that is for Mugabe.

gukurahundi - 8 July 2016

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