CONFEDERATION of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has raised concern over the influx of substandard imports, which are easily evading the Bureau Veritas pre-importation assessment system in a development likely to frustrate ongoing efforts to resuscitate local industry.
BY ALOIS VINGA
CZI president Sifelani Jabangwe told NewsDay that some of the mechanisms put in place to plug smuggling and restore industrial productivity were facing serious threats.
“A few years back, a quality conformity assessment programme that checks the suitability of foreign-manufactured goods before they enter the country was put in place and is run by a third party entity, Bureau Veritas,” he said.
“It was charged with the responsibility to conduct health and general quality checks and when the programme commenced, over 40% of foreign manufactured products were condemned and blocked from entry.
“However, CZI recently unearthed that smugglers are now using alternative routes, which make it easier to evade the assessment system and, in turn, there is a high volume of substandard goods flooding the local market.”
Jabangwe noted that it had become increasingly difficult for formally operating companies to remain afloat because they incurred higher expenses as compared to smugglers.
“Our members are contributing (to the national economy) by paying taxes, creating employment yet some players are importing goods for free and selling them on pavements, a development which may discourage formal businesses to remain in the market,” he said.
The CZI leader bemoaned the fact that most of the perpetrators of this vice were high-ranking officials who seemed to be “untouchables”, yet perpetuating economic sabotage.
These developments are emerging despite the fact that government has introduced various measures, including Statutory Instruments 18, 19, 20 and 64 in a bid to curtail the importation of products that can be produced locally.
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority board chairperson Willia Bonyongwe recently told delegates at the organisation’s annual general meeting that the issue of smuggling required a multi-stakeholder approach to curb it.
“Smuggling is difficult to arrest because most of the goods are not entering through the borders. Those who illegally transit goods are sometimes armed and it is risky for our employees to pursue them,” she said.
“This is a problem which requires all the borders’ manning agencies to work together because we can only manage what passes through the border posts.”