US, Mauritius dump Zim tobacco

HARARE - The United States of America and Mauritius have stopped importing Zimbabwean tobacco over escalating human rights abuses, sources say.

Latest statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (Timb) indicate that the two countries — among Zimbabwe’s top 10 tobacco export destinations and who imported a combined $11,7 million of the golden leaf in 2015 — were conspicuous by their absence from this year’s list of top 40 importing countries.

Economic experts said the withdrawal by the deep-pocketed countries from buying Zimbabwean products is a heavy blow to the country’s moribund economy.

Tobacco is among Zimbabwe’s major exports, with the country exporting 90 percent of the golden leaf while 10 percent is consumed domestically.

“America and Mauritius used to buy our tobacco at good rates. For instance, in 2015 they imported tobacco at an average of $4,00 per kg, which is far ahead of the $2,79 that South Africa was offering and if they (US and Mauritius) had continued buying, this year prices would have definitely improved,” said an official privy to developments at Timb.

Early this year, farmers sought audience with the tobacco industry regulator over grossly low prices which were obtaining at the auction floors, despite a huge improvement in the crop’s quality.

Figures obtained by the Daily News indicate tobacco prices averaged between $2,50 and $2,60 per kg this year compared to an average of $3,60 per kg in 2015.

The latest development comes at a time Zimbabwe — once considered a pariah State in the western world due to its bad human rights record — is back in the international spotlight.

This was after the police last week used teargas, water cannons and batons to disperse opposition youths who demonstrated in the capital against alleged brutality by security agents.

The European Union (EU) joined the US and Canada to denounce President Robert Mugabe’s regime for deploying the police to clamp down on peaceful protestors.

Zimbabwean authorities have a history of being vicious and violent towards Mugabe’s opponents.

“The EU expresses its concern at the marked increase in violence at public protests and demonstrations in Zimbabwe in recent weeks,” EU head of delegation Ambassador Philippe Van Damme said.

“The freedom to demonstrate and present petitions is enshrined in the Zimbabwean Constitution, along with other fundamental human rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression, assembly and association.

“These rights must be exercised peacefully and fully respected by the authorities,” he added.

The western bloc urged all Zimbabweans to shun any form of violence.

“Any form of violence, including incitement to violence and advocacy of hatred or hate speech, must be condemned by all parties in the strongest possible way.

“The EU calls for calm, mutual respect and dialogue by all parties, as well as full respect for the Constitution and the rule of law.

“It is the duty of the police to uphold the Constitution,” the bloc noted.

The EU said the police had a duty to facilitate undisturbed peaceful demonstrations and petitions while “use of force should only be considered as a last resort” while arrested people and the judiciary must be respected.

“The EU calls for calm, mutual respect and dialogue by all parties, as well as full respect for the Constitution and the rule of law,” added the bloc.

Comments (4)

Did they also stop importing precious minerals using their proxies?

munhu - 5 September 2016

Tobacco demand is in decline in more developed countries, I doubt the reason why they are not buying Zimbabwe's tobacco is for human rights violation if they had been buying as recent as 2015. Brazil is the biggest producer of the product and given the reduction in consumption in traditional markets it means there is an oversupply of the product and so some producers will not get to sell their products unless they start dumping.

Galore - 5 September 2016

Zim actually made more money from tobacco this year than last. The crop is the only success story of the land reform.

anri3v - 6 September 2016

where are you getting your statistics. TIMB reports are revealing that in 2015 Mauritius was not in top 10 Importers. on Prices China imported at an average of $8.31/kg compared to $3.55 for USA and $3.83 for Mauritius. On Volumes China Imported 61 724 786 kgs compared to 2 228 320 kgs for USA and 1 417 600 for Mauritius. So the statistics are suggesting that only China has a great influence on the average price of our Tobacco exports compared to any other country.

mbatatisi - 6 September 2016

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