THOSE in the agriculture and retail business complaining about being affected by import restrictions must not be entertained as communal farmers have capacity to meet the demand, a deputy minister has said.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Last month, government promulgated Statutory Instrument (SI) 64 of 2016, which restricted the importation of certain products to protect local industries. It said those that wanted to import restricted products have to obtain a licence, but after satisfying authorities why they should be allowed to import the products.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting yesterday, deputy minister of Agriculture Paddy Zhanda said communal farmers were more than capable of meeting the demand.
The meeting was held under the theme, Interrogating the State of Zimbabwe’s Agricultural Sector and running concurrently with the 2016 Harare Agricultural Show.
“I hear retailers are coming to you [ministry of Industry and Commerce] to say they have been affected by SI 64 of 2016. Let them be affected, do not worry, they will soon find ways of dealing with that. We have poor farmers in Mutoko, for example, who produce enough maize and carrots, farmers in Chegutu that produce tomatoes and butternut every now and again, who come to Mbare Musika to sell their products and find them competing with products from South Africa,” Zhanda said.
“If we continue to behave normally in an abnormal situation it means that you are not normal. Let us not listen to those people who are saying their businesses are going to die and employment will be affected, just say thank you.”
He added: “The person who came to open a business here — their intention was not to harm employment, it was to make money and unfortunately you cannot make money without employing people.”
Some of the 43 products listed on S1 64 of 2016 were put as a preventative measure as they were found to be easily produced in the country.
Economist Kipson Gundani said there had to be constant monitoring of SI 64 of 2016, as trade was a double edged sword, meaning, both good and bad.
“I think there is an agreement that this (SI 64 of 2016) is a short term measure and is not sustainable itself. We need to go a step further into domesticating procurement through probably a local content approach similar to what industrialised countries have done. More importantly, there is an agreement to say yes trade is good, but it is also harmful,” Gundani said.
“There is an agreement to regulate but what needs to happen is the extent to which to regulate because we may over regulate to an extent where we get less and less efficient which would detrimental to our cause.”
It is estimated the agricultural sector needs $2 billion to be capacitated.