SENIOR STAFF WRITER
SMUGGLED inferior goods, including second hand clothes and imported used defective vehicles, have flooded Zimbabwe to the detriment of the local industry, according to a recent report by Auditor- General Mildred Chiri, pictured.
In a report tabled in Parliament recently and aimed at examining the extent of the efficiency and effectiveness with which the ministry of Industry and Commerce had fulfilled its mandate to monitor the quality of goods imported into the country, Chiri revealed that government programmes to curb the importation of substandard goods were inadequate.
“For example the Conformity Based Conformity Assessment (CBCA) programme did not cover destination inspection and market surveillance. In addition the audit noted that the ministry did not have regulations governing the quality assessment of 87,5 percent of imported products into the country. The fact that most goods were not being checked for quality increased the risk of substandard goods finding their way into the country,” Chiri said.
While the ministry had crafted the motor industry development policy in 2017 which required that all second hand vehicles be inspected for mechanical and structural defects at source to ensure that those that do not meet the standards would not be allowed into the country by December 2019, the audit revealed that the policy has not been implemented.
The audit noted that by August 31, 2018, the structures for the implementation of the policy were not yet in place.
“It was stated (in the policy) that if used vehicles were not checked for quality, the country could be flooded with substandard vehicles which could be costly in terms of insurance premiums as a result of high incidences of accidents and could endanger people’s lives.
“Further, expansion of the local motor industry may be greatly affected as people go for the cheap second hand vehicles,” the report revealed.
Chiri said, according to statistics obtained from the Central Vehicle Registry, the nation had imported 239 042 second vehicles for the period January 2015 to September 2018.
“The audit also noted that second-hand clothes and under garments were being smuggled into the country and sold at designated flea markets such as Mupedzanhamo in Mbare (Harare) and Chinotimba flea market in Victoria Falls,” she said.
“My visit to Mbare revealed that there were 10 warehouses which were packed to capacity with bales of second hand clothing.
“In Mutare and Bulawayo, second hand undergarments were being sold in the streets, despite a ban on the importation of second hand undergarments…
“The flea markets and some clothes shops in Harare, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls and Beitbridge showed an influx of blankets imported either from South Africa or Botswana.
“The blankets were in two forms; good quality blankets with care labels and properly sewn right round and across the blanket. The other substandard blankets were not properly sewn and were said to quickly bulge at the centre.
“The cheap blankets were directly affecting local producers such as Waverly Company,” added the report.
The audit covered a four-year period starting January 2015 to August 2018.