BULAWAYO – President of the Zimbabwe Clothing Manufacturers Association Jeremy Youmans has pinned hope on the new government for the revival of the heavily-strained industry.
Operations in the clothing industry have shrunk over the years owing to an economic slump because of a rise in foreign imports dominating the local market.
Youmans told the Daily News that senior government officials have already started engaging the association in a bid to rescue the struggling industry.
“We are very excited with the new government. It has been a while that we had a government that would focus on monetary policies and have power to implement,” Youmans said.
“So far all the ministers and senior government officials we dealt with have been talking a very good message we need in the industry.
“We just need the hope that will translate into action.”
According to Youmans the sector is now pegged less than 20 percent down from “where we were during our peak but we have started doing a turn-around this year,” in terms of operations.
He said his association was in the process of engaging buyers and particularly the government on its policies on trade agreements around the garments in the fight for survival of local products.
Youmans, who appeared pessimistic about the future of the industry, predicted that if the industry was successfully revived, about 29 000 jobs are going to be created in the next five years.
He however, criticised the continued import of foreign substandard goods saying it was posing severe strain on the local industry which is on the verge of recovery.
“The importation of finished clothing items has grossly affected the clothing industry in the country.
“It has affected us hugely, but the biggest problem is, the goods are not only cheap but are generally substandard.
Zimbabweans have been fooled into buying things that appear cheap on price but are expensive in value because they are not durable,” Youmans added.
The association boss appealed for import duties to be levied in tandem with those agreed by Sadc and Comesa.
“They must be adhered to because the industry is entitled to that level of protection.”
He said his association has been holding monthly meetings with Zimra to ensure cordial relations and update each other on business operations.
Youmans concurred with the notion that Bulawayo has been most affected by de-industrialisation.
“But while we appreciate that at this time we need a countrywide solution not a provincial one, we believe that Bulawayo has other opportunities that Harare does not have and we must develop it on that basis,” he said.
The association recently held two clothing indabas in Harare and Bulawayo where resolutions about a full recovery of the industry were considered.
Of the 168 registered clothing and manufacturing firms only three are exporting, which signifies how local standards have plummeted over the years.