Import ‘ban’ triggers chaos

Mike Bimha

RIOT police intervened to quell riots at Beitbridge Border Post on Saturday, as shoppers and cross-border traders threatened to beat up customs officials following a blanket ban on all imported goods from South Africa.


Members of the anti-riot police Pic Aron Ufumeli (2)

According to regulations gazetted last week, one now needs a permit to import some basic commodities.

Officials from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) ambushed the shoppers by collecting duty before demanding to see import permits, citing a Constitutional Court ruling.

The ruling followed an application by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

This enraged the cross border traders, who converged under a shed in the customs yard and began chanting anti-government songs.

Customs officials were taken aback by the sudden turn of events and called police, who in turn summoned their support unit to control the disgruntled crowd.

But police folded their arms when they heard Zimra had collected duty and were refusing to release goods.

Zimra officials then allowed reason to prevail and the shoppers left with their goods, with the officials saying the new regulations would be implemented on Monday (yesterday).

Reports last night indicated the new measures had been suspended, although this was not independently verified.

Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha said the new regulations will only come into effect from July 1.

Zimra regional manager at Beitbridge Batsirayi Chadzingwa referred all questions to their head office in Harare.

Government last week gazetted stringent regulations meant to control the importation of goods that were available locally under Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Goods that have been removed from the general import licence and now required a permit to be brought into the country include coffee creamers (Cremora), camphor creams, white petroleum jellies and body creams.

Goods categorised as builders’ ware like wheelbarrows (flat pan and concrete pan wheelbarrows), structures and parts of structures of iron or steel (bridges and bridges section, lock gates, towers, lattice masts, roofs, roofing frameworks, doors, windows and their frames and threshold for doors, shutters, balustrade, pillars and columns) and plates, rods, angles, shapes section and tubes prepared for use in structures of iron and steel ware, were also on the list of the restricted products.

The list also includes furniture, baked beans, potato crisps, cereals, bottled water, mayonnaise, salad cream, peanut butter, jams, maheu, canned fruits and vegetables, pizza base, yoghurts, flavoured milks, dairy juice blends, ice-creams, cultured milk and cheese.

Synthetic hair products, popular with women were also covered by the SI.

Bimha told NewsDay last night that government had not banned any product.

“We did not ban. We have introduced a licence system for the importation of certain goods. The licence fee is $30,” he said.

Bimha said the licence would be valid for a period of three months and was open to anyone who wanted, provided they justified the reasons for importing.

“Those who want to import have to apply, but we need to establish why you are importing and should be able to give a genuine reason why you are importing, if its water, we will ask, why and is there no water in the country,” he said.

Bimha said the introduction of a licence system for importing certain goods was a follow up from last year, when government removed cooking oil and sugar, among other products, from the general import licence.

“This means people cannot just import things as they want, but they can import if they have a licence and one can only get the licence if they are certified,” he explained.

“We are moving forward. We did this with products like cooking oil and sugar. We want to support the local industry. Most companies previously could not produce, but now they have acquired the technologies and are able to produce. So they can increase their capacities through a local boost.”

Bimha said the restrictions would boost local production, adding there was need to support local industries.


  1. Stupid. Kana ndichida CREMORA rega nditenge; imari yangu yandakashandira. Dairiboard haisi kundinakira.
    haa mhani zvakubhohwa manje

      • Cremora is a non-dairy creamer suitable for vegetarians, vegans, lactose intolerant and those who simply do not like dairy.

      • Dairy board is no longer pure milk they mix with soya milk plus they used to import from Malawi dairy board it had a funny spelling like chongombe only idiots like you never saw the difference

  2. don’t think its a good idea to ban importation of food stuffs, as the majority can afford to buy those imported goods because they are cheaper as compared to locally processed

  3. People have lost faith in the government.While it is noble to protect the domestic industry but in our political climate, renting seeking appears to be the overall motive.What has not escaped the attention of the public is that, immediately the import ban is applied, most of these goods covered under the ban are no longer accessible by the generality of the public due to the escalating prices.

  4. stupidity must be contagious!Do these local industries have the capacity to cater for the whole country?and what products are being sold in most shops in zimbabwe? are they not south african.? Asi kufunga kunorwadza?

  5. in as much as it may seem harsh and imprudent this move will yield positive returns in the long run. most south African companies are dumping their products here. the local industries which has the potential to supply the local market can not compete internationally hence they need to be protected slightly so that they get on their feet. if we buy from s.a we are simply creating employment for s.a buying and producing locally means that we create employment thus boosting the economy, so for all goods that the local industry can sufficiently produce we need to restrict their entrance into Zim,

    • I would respectfully disagree with your optimistic hope of “positive returns in the long run”.
      Its is a well known fact that industry in Zimbabwe is so severely hamstrung by a lot of self inflicted problems. Its impossible to imagine a manufacturing industry viably and sustainably producing goods on standby generators and borehole water and high utility bills from ZESA. Added to the challenges are the plethora of permits and onerous compliance rules any industrialist must navigate in order to stay on the right side of the law. The latest SI is nothing more of the usual rent seeking behaviour from public officials .

    • Chief i work in SA,that’s where i am being paid,because my government has failed to create employment for me,i buy my stuff when they are on specials and i have choice,i buy what i want with the money i have worked for,maybe if they allow those who are officially working in SA to come back with something that would be better and they stop those working and earning in Zim from coming to buy in SA

  6. The country is surely on autopilot with both the presidium and the ministers making ill advised decisions whilst the economy is burning. Taneta manje ne Zanu PF. Hatichade manje.

  7. over protection is dangerous too. at times industries relax because they know they r protected.there are monopolies in the country which are failing to tick. whats needed is true business acumen not fly by night business. if we had options for zesa or NRZ taidai tchi importer their services

  8. I forsee these permits being given to Zanu pf only only as a campaign strategy. Very soon zanupf you youth wil b selling these products atflea markets

  9. The big question is are out local industries able to meet demand for some of these products. The little available will be very expensive making the poor more poorer.

  10. Jokes! When all wholesalers and retailers are stocked up with these South African Products. Seka zvako Chihera. They must ambush these retailers and wholesalers and ask them to buy and sell local products.
    kana kuti they are just targeting the poor people trying to make ends meet.

  11. tangai marambidza maSupermarkets nemadown town tuckshop kupinza nekutenge SA products like soap, cooking oil, etc

  12. 2litres cooking oil and brown sugar is now off the shelves now, sooner than later we will be back in 2008 era, kutungamirirwa nemadofo zvakoita, nxaaa

  13. The said reality is people are importing most of these commodity for resale to make ends meet because they don’t have jobs. Why should they be punished and forced to protect those employed when they are not. Its a very stupid decision by a very stupid minister. Companies are not paying taxes. Its customs duty money thts financing the country’s budget. So if u ban imports tht means there won’t be any duties to be paid and its the government tht gets broke. On the other hand permits will be corruptly given to a few individuals. Our country have gone to the dogs.

  14. It will only increase corruption @ e border coz e licence won’t stop e goods to come in e country kkkkkkkk

  15. Isu taneta ne bush economics dzisingashande, hezvo cooking oil no longer available, why Bimha do you want to see us suffering.
    We suffer to collect money from long queues now we will not have food on the table.
    Yet zvenyu zviri kuita

  16. Do we hve capacity to meet local demand or else we setting bases for inflation. Creating shortage of supplies if its cheaper to import leave them to import let market forces pin down local supply until they can comptete with regional mkts. Zweans are profitiers fond of overcharging.

  17. It would have been prudent enough to lure those south African investors and come and make the products here than try to suffocate us.We should have investor friendly policies that attracts these foreign firms to come and establish business here in Zimbabwe than trying to protect the under capitalised businesses that are not able to produce adquate goods for the nation.They can not meet the demand.You want to protect 2 % of business owners and let the rest of us suffer and they obviously reap from us as they will be a short supply.Then obviously you will need to introduce price controls instead of competition regulating itself.Be serious.

    • Are you a natural born idiot who in his right mind would come all the way from South Africa or any where else to open a Business in Zimbabwe where

      1st of all more than 90% of all companies have closed business and the buildings left behind are now churches or warehouse or worse off white elephants

      2nd even if you open a company here you wont own it some Zhanu pf Minister will have 51% of what ever you running making your superior

      3rd no law in Zim local or foreigner will ever be in your favor unless the Gvt gets a loins share with Zimra breathing down your neck

      4th With corruption I hardly think you can make it very from licencing fees to running cost you will be working to pay bribs

  18. dai kuri kuno mangwana chaiwo imba yemunhu ataura izvi yaimuka yatsva.people are strugling iwe wotaura dhoto rakadaro?wandipa hasha,mwari wakuitire nyasha before smthn bjd hapenz to you

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