BULAWAYO – Bulawayo industrialists have cried foul over Zimbabwe’s over reliance on imports, arguing that uncontrolled imports are driving the industry into deeper recession.
Zimbabwe is a net importer of South African and Chinese products, which has grossly affected the country’s current account.
Speaking during a Bulawayo Business Arise (BBA) breakfast meeting in Bulawayo on Wednesday, managing director of Drummond Group of Companies, Kenneth Drummond said Zimbabwe has a relaxed import regime which has done much harm to the industry over the past 10 years.
Drummond said the importation of basic goods from South Africa sends the wrong signal to the market that Zimbabwean producers are unable to provide goods for the local market.
“We do not have access to our own markets. The over importation of goods from other countries sends a wrong signal to the producer that there is no market for them,” Drummond said.
He urged government to assist local producers in boosting local production and implored Zimbabweans to buy local products.
“If our economy could sacrifice imports, it would send the right signal to the producers,” he added.
Bulawayo is one of the country’s industrial hubs which were grossly affected by Zimbabwe’s over dependence on South African imports, culminating in the closure of most industries.
Industrial sites that were once vibrant have suddenly become derelict monuments, while local investors are reluctant to invest due to policy uncertainties.
“The business sector has a lot of capital which is lying idle.
“Zimbabweans should not think that Foreign Direct Investments (FDI’S) are a quick solution to our problems,” Drummond said, adding that Zimbabwe’s economic recovery will be driven by local investors.
Participants at the meeting also deliberated on the proposal for Bulawayo as a special economic zone under the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset).
Peter Mugodi, a business and tax advisory expert with Ernst and Young, urged government to simplify investment deals by creating a one stop shop for foreign investors to cut red tape.
“Government should create a one stop shop for investors, where everything is done in one office to expedite the process,” Mugodi said.
Special Economic Zones were successfully implemented in Shenzhen, China in 1980 and has improved the country to become the second largest economy in the world after United States of America.