WILLOWVALE Mazda Motor Industry (WMMI) has failed to open its Harare assembling plant due to stiff competition from imported vehicles and lack of supportive policies from government that promote the survival of the entity.
Report by Tarisai Mandizha
Appearing before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, WMMI managing director Dawson Mareya this week said as a result of the challenges the company had stopped assembling motor vehicles.
“Willowvale assembling plant has been closed since October last year and we don’t know when it will be reopening,” he said.
Mareya said the main challenge was that the market for motor vehicles had shrunk and local assembling companies had been put out of business.
He said the company was working on plans to resuscitate the plant, but the challenge was that its products were no longer finding ready takers.
“We are looking further and see if we can restart assembling as it is not competitive to the current market.”
He said the reduction in customs duty over the years had made WMMI products appear very uncompetitive since the current duty regime made it difficult for the local motor industry to survive.
“Over the past five years, we have been trying to articulate these issues. We have tried to lobby government but later stopped,” Mareya said.
“The statutory instrument made to stop cars older than five years from coming into the country was dropped within a month.”
He said in the 1990’s duty was almost 100% and this enabled the local assembly industry to thrive.
“The highest duty paid is less than 40%, so this doesn’t create any incentives for the motor industry to grow,” Mareya said.
The WMMI boss said for the motor industry to grow the country required protection to enable players to trade favourably. Most Zimbabweans have resorted to importing second hand vehicles mainly from Japan as they find it much cheaper compared to purchasing new vehicles locally.
On average, a second hand vehicle costs $5000.