Quest faces collapse: Govt

MUTARE- Mutare-based Quest Motors (Quest) is on the verge of collapse, with the vehicle manufacturer’s assembly plant now operating at two percent capacity, a senior government official revealed.

Minister of State for Manicaland Monica Mutsvangwa told a meeting of provincial heads of government and parastatals in the eastern border city this week that the automobile manufacturer was facing serious viability challenges and urgently needed rescue.

“I had an opportunity to tour two companies, including Quest motors, I’m telling you they are operating at two percent and yet you look around our children are out of school and there is so much unemployment all over… What can we do?,” she said.

Quest has been running since 1960, when it started off as Australian Motor Corporation.

To date, it has assembled over 100 000 passenger vehicles, trucks and tractors of 170 different models.

Apart from the tough economic environment, the company’s challenges have been worsened by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s failure to process its RTGS payments to Japan and China for kit supplies. Some payments have been delayed by as long as eight months.

The complete-knock-down-vehicle-assembler has been holding on to its staff past their retirement ages in a desperate effort to prevent losing its 55-year human capital investment.

It has been unable to effectively facilitate skills transfer through hiring new staff due to years of depressed production.

The company had breathed a sigh of relief after surviving a decade-long economic crunch, as it was beginning to increase its vehicle range, but prospects began to wane in recent years.

Quest operations manager, Carl Fernandez, has said they are not getting adequate government support, despite being classified as a Category One industry requiring priority.

“We have been facing serious problems with paying for kits for more than a year.

“We can’t seem to get our allocation even though we are in Category One,” Fernandez said in a previous interview, which he maintains is still the case.

He said nothing had changed, despite engaging senior government officials, key decision makers and parliamentarians.

Quest holds the franchises for Japanese manufacturers — Mitsubishi, Toyota, Suzuki — and Chinese makes such as Foton, JMC and Chery as well as German car maker BMW.