Welshman Ncube blasts Bimha over imports ban

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MDC leader Professor Welshman Ncube

FORMER Industry and Commerce minister, Welshman Ncube has castigated his successor Mike Bimha for banning imports, as the economy was struggling to meet demand, with malfunctioning industries.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

Minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha
Minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha

Government recently gazetted Statutory Instrument (SI) 64 of 2016, which removed goods that are supposedly locally available from the open general import licence exemption triggering mass protests either side of the Beitbridge border.

Under new regulations, those who want to import the restricted products have to secure a $30 permit, valid for three months, after justifying why they should be allowed to bring the products into the country.

However, Ncube, the minister of Industry and Commerce during the inclusive government, said the ban was ill-informed and needed redress, as it would make the country lose revenue from customs.

“I urge the government to reverse the policies they have made on bond notes and imports. They need to find another way of reviving the economy rather than banning imports. You can’t look at manufacturing sector in isolation,” he said.

“Zimbabwe has agro-based manufacturing. Unless we sort out agriculture, we can’t revive the manufacturing sector and without a functioning mining sector, you can’t be able to revive manufacturing sector.”

Ncube said the ban on imports has taken away the livelihoods of citizens, who were relying on informal cross border trade.

He said the economy has collapsed, with the attendant loss of jobs, incomes and livelihoods; decimation and productive assets.

Ncube said from the beginning of 2016, the national crises have entrenched, culminating in the profligate government draining the banking sector of liquidity.

“In the past month, the so-called cash shortages have resulted in people failing to access their money in banks, and government failing to pay public workers,” he said.

Ncube said the government needed to attract money into the country and keep it.

“You need to entice local businesspeople to do business in the country. Why our local business people are not investing in the country? It’s because of uncertainty brought by the Indigenisation Act,” he said.

About one million Zimbabweans cross the Beitbridge Border Post every month to buy goods from South Africa, as Zimbabwe’s economy continues imploding.

South Africa is Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner, accounting for about 70% of imported goods in the southern African country.

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