Red tape stifles growth of clothing sector

THE Zimbabwe Clothing Manufacturers’ Association (ZCMA) says its members could create 5 000 jobs this year if constraints, some of them bureaucratic, were fixed.


ZCMA chairman Jeremy Youmans told NewsDay that the sector had the potential to grow, but there were many other constraints which were holding back growth of the sector.

“The agreement made between the clothing and textile sectors to promote the development of both sectors and the cotton value chain in general, required certain legal, procedural and economic implementation by government,” Youmans said.

“The agreement was very well thought out and derived and needs to be implemented in its entirety to enable the full realisation of the benefits. We continue to liaise with the relevant ministries, but in the meantime, the sectors are still constrained,” he said.

Youmans said the inclusion of schoolwear in Statutory Instrument 122 encouraged the need for various other interventions to make it workable.

These have not been actioned and so the local production of the majority of schoolwear remains a missed opportunity for the sector and the country, he said.

“But there are many issues which are simple to deal with. However, we tend to make things very difficult for ourselves and fail to implement even these simplest of things. We need to continue pushing for the positive interventions we need. Likewise, we need government to implement what has been agreed and supported by them,” he said.

“At the end of the day, we are all working towards the same core objective, to develop the economy of Zimbabwe, but sometimes it feels like we are moving in different directions. We need to correct this.”

“If we can get finalisation and implementation of many of the issues discussed, early in the year, we should be able to create 3 000 to 5 000 jobs this year. The momentum created would drive even greater growth each subsequent year,” Youmans said.

In 2019, Youmans said they wanted to finalise all the outstanding matters on the South Africa bilateral trade agreement, the clothing and textile agreement, the implementation of the control on schoolwear, and the priority allocation of foreign currency for raw materials.

“We also need to deal with the fluid economic situation and find a stable and sustainable cost basis. We need to update our marketing platforms and communication forums,” he said.

“On the back of these factors, we then can continue to grow the sector through import substitution and export growth. We can compete with most in the region, if given the necessary access, and can leverage our agreements with the EU.”

Youmans said they would push for access to the US markets, which Zimbabwe is currently excluded from because of sanctions. Most African countries have duty-free quota access to the US market through the African Growth and Opportunities Act.

“Our aim is to get the sector back to 35 000 employees within the next five years,” he said.

Youmans said the year 2018 was one of frustration in that, whilst demand and opportunities increased significantly, most manufacturers were unable to realise them due to lack of access to foreign currency for raw materials.

“Therefore, the growth in the sector was constrained. We are still committed to growing the sector back to its heydays of 35 000 employees from the current 7 000,” he said.

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