THE ban on imports was a bad idea as Zimbabwe has an 80% informal sector, a French envoy has said, urging government to be more careful when making decisions.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Two weeks ago, government regulated that some products were banned into the country in a bid to boost local production.
The ban came into effect on July 1.
Speaking to NewsDay on the sidelines at the launch of the Momagri Agency in Zimbabwe, French Ambassador to Zimbabwe Laurent Delahousse said government should understand that the informal sector was an important part of the economy.
“Without the informal sector, which acts as a cushion to allow a large portion of Zimbabweans to survive in these difficult times, government has to be very careful about decisions that have affect in the informal sector. Preventing people from importing into Zimbabwe has led to the uprising we saw in Beitbridge and maybe this decision should have been discussed a little bit more at length with the representatives of that informal sector,” Delahousse said.
“The ban on imports is already affecting the vendors and the vendors are not happy. The ban on imports was not the greatest idea as the country is 80% made up on the informal sector. If you make these people unhappy, you are not going to help your country. I believe that Zimbabwe has all resources, energy and creativeness to come out of this problem. You need to work with everybody, in particular, with us the West.”
He said he was very passionate about the informal sector urging government to hold consultations with the sector before selling polices that can alienate them.
The informal sector’s dominance has often been under debate with numbers varying from 80% to 90% showing the growth of small traders.
Small traders often brought in goods from outside the country due to their affordability and the fact that with the United States dollar being the most common currency in Zimbabwe, traders were able to buy more.
The banned goods include 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 local women, were also covered by the Statutory Instrument.