Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) says the government must protect industries from foreigners if local companies are to survive.
CZI president Joseph Kanyekanye said Zimbabwe is the largest importer of footwear from South Africa and a huge importer of Chinese shoes which are coming into the country duty free through smuggling.
“Motor vehicle and the shoes industries require protection. Our companies cannot compete with Chinese ‘$1 for two shoes’. Imports are becoming a problem for particular industries,” he said.
Kanyekanye said there is need to have a crackdown on the Chinese so that locals take over.
He said Bata Zimbabwe and Superior Holdings shoe companies have capacity to produce good quality shoes but they need to be capacitated.
Kanyekanye said there should be a deliberate policy to make people buy cars that are locally assembled — for example Mazda vehicles for all government departments.
Kanyekanye said companies are also struggling with bills from arbitrators forcing some companies to go into voluntary liquidation.
“However, we feel there is a need to reduce income tax to make cost of employment sustainable. There is need for the arbitration process to be more rational and fair. The labour act should give employers flexibility and control,” he said.
He said the cost of labour is high compared to the region and is hindering manufacturing competitiveness, resulting in an increase in joblessness as manufacturers import capital goods to bypass labour.
He said the high labour cost will increase the number of labour brokers who do not follow labour laws and trigger deindustrialisation.
The manufacturing sector is operating at between 47%-50% capacity utilisation levels. The level is expected to increase to 56% if capital injection and rehabilitation of infrastructure is put in place this year.