GOVERNMENT’S delays in announcing a new policy instrument to allow clothing manufacturers to import duty free clothes and textile material has further threatened the viability of the sector.
BY TARISAI MANDIZHA
Secretary-general of the National Union of the Clothing Industry, Joseph Tanyanyiwa, told NewsDay recently that most players in the clothing industry were contemplating sending their workers on forced leave while others have reportedly failed to resume operations following their annual shutdown last December as their materials were being held at the bonded warehouse.
“The clothing sector is already on its knees, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should not delay to issue the clothing manufacturers rebate,” Tanyanyiwa said.
“As the National Union of Clothing Industry we want the window for clothing and textile employers to continue to import on duty free or else will risk the danger of the industry shutting down again.
“At Diesel Gear since they opened on January 5, workers are just seated and the employer is saying if they don’t access the material soon they are sending employees on forced leave.”
He said most of the companies from the clothing and textile industry have failed to clear their clothing and textiles imports since December 2014.
Tanyanyiwa said currently the clothing sector was operating at below 30% from a peak of between 40 and 45% in 2010 and 2011.
In his 2015 Budget statement, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa had proposed to extend the clothing manufacturers rebate facility by another 12 months as the rebate had attracted investment and generated additional employment in the clothing industry.
Previously the companies that used to benefit from the facility were Playtime Manufacturers, CohCoh Enterprises, Paramount Exports, Rolling Stone, Bravette Manufacturing, Carousel, Enbee Stores, Escapedes, Archer Clothing, James North Zimbabwe, Faith Wear and J.J. Benatar.
Materials eligible for the rebate include cotton sewing thread containing 85% or more by weight of cotton, cotton sewing thread, denim, plain weave weighing more than 100g per square metre, sewing thread of man-made staple fibres, not put up for retail sale, woven fabrics of polyester staple fibres, chenille fabrics, tulles and other net fabrics.
The textile and clothing industry at its peak used to employ at least 35 000 but the figure has since plunged to about 8 000 due to a number of problems bedevilling the industry.
Last year government in partnership with the private sector launched the cotton-to-clothing strategy as part of efforts to revive the sector.