BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
SHEPCO BMA Fasteners, a division of Shepco Group, is planning to invest about $2 million into the factory, but their main challenge was the unavailability of raw materials locally, an official has said.
Shepco Group chief executive Shepherd Chawira told NewsDay that following the demise of Zisco Steel, they were now struggling to access raw materials.
“We have invested a lot in trying to retool and to get machinery back to serviceable condition, and we have started manufacturing. The challenge that we currently have is the raw material,” he said.
“If foreign currency can be availed for raw materials, we are ready to roll. At the moment, we are operating at 10% capacity.”
Chawira said they planned to invest about $2 million into the company, going forward.
“We plan to invest about $2 million now, going forward. So far, we have invested up to $4 million in the company. We are manufacturing and all the machines are ready, but only 10% is running at most. If we get the raw material, we will run up to 20%,” he said.
“So there is need for government to expedite the resuscitation of Ziscosteel so that we can get our raw materials in the country,” he said.
Chawira, who was recently elected president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries Matabeleland chapter, said they had approached the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe so it avails at least $200 000 per month for raw material imports, to no avail.
“…but if enough foreign currency was availed now, I can tell that within six months we can be exporting special products. If they can provide foreign currency to companies like BMA, they can cut some imports which are coming into the country and we save foreign currency. There is an effect of import substitution here, which the whole country can benefit from,” he said.
Chawira said even though the forex interbank market had been put in place, the forex was still in short supply.
“We can’t access it. I can tell you now since the inception of that interbank foreign exchange market, all our group companies have never accessed a single cent because the forex is not just enough,” he said.
Chawira said government should prioritise manufacturing entities on foreign currency allocations so that the country does not import products that can be manufactured locally.