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Textile sector starves local market


The textile sector in Zimbabwe exported goods worth over R2 billion to South Africa since 2009, but none of these goods were made available to local clothing manufacturers, an official has said.


Jeremy Youmans
Jeremy Youmans

Zimbabwe Clothing Manufacturers’ Association chairperson, Jeremy Youmans, told NewsDay that even though the textile sector exported R2 billion worth of goods to South Africa since 2009, the clothing sector did not benefit.

“Since 2009, there has been over R2 billion worth of textiles exported to South Africa from Zimbabwe,” he said.

“Obviously none of these textile goods were made available to local clothing manufacturers, so while it earned the country external funds, some of these were needed to fund imports of fabric, which was not available locally due to it having been exported.”

Youmans said the sector was importing poly-cotton fabrics, as these were not produced locally.

As a result, the country is losing millions of dollars through imports.

“Because the textile sector chooses not to make poly-cotton fabrics, they have to be imported. While the polyester fibres would always have to be imported, this means the clothing manufacturer, who imports the poly-cotton fabric, their customer has demanded, also is effectively importing the cotton, which was used to produce the fabric as well,” he said.

“So, not only do we pay scarce external funds on cotton, which could be sourced here, the benefit of the value addition in the cotton to clothing chain in Zimbabwe is also lost.”

To value add cotton, Youmans said it does not have to be used only in 100% cotton fabrics.

“When it is blended into poly-cotton fabrics, it is utilised and the value addition realised as well. So it is a real issue that the textile sector chooses not to make these fabrics and we have to import them.”

Youmans said the industry was still suffocating from cheap imports despite government having introduced a number of measures to tame the tide.

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