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Buy Zimbabwe wants Praz to prioritise local goods

Buy Zimbabwe chief executive officer Munyaradzi Hwengwere

BUY Zimbabwe is in talks with the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) for the entity to prioritise locally-produced goods and services, NewsDay Business can reveal.

This comes as Buy Zimbabwe, the local goods and services promoter, is seeking to step up its efforts to ensure that most goods and services on sale are local.

Praz regulates procurement processes among government and State enterprises.

In an interview with NewsDay Business, Buy Zimbabwe chief executive officer Munyaradzi Hwengwere said they had been focusing on several aspects in prioritising locally-manufactured goods.

“Our focus areas have really been to make sure that on the public procurement sector we prioritise locally produced goods and services. Right now, our discussion with the Procurement Regulator Authority of Zimbabwe is to make sure that the provision that prefers locals in terms of public procurement is tightened so that it focuses on the goods,” he said.

“While the provision is there, it is too open-ended and it does not speak of locally-produced goods and services. And it has created loopholes so that’s the first strategy that we can speak about.”

Discussions with Praz come as the public sector is the biggest buyer of goods and services.

For example, between January and September this year, at least ZWL$4,45 trillion was spent on goods and services, thus providing a huge market for local manufacturers and service providers.

Hwengwere said the Buy Zimbabwe campaign had resulted in a drop in imports.

“Looking at the last trade data for October produced by ZimStats, you see that in as much as the import bill remains higher than our export it is significantly reduced. So, it is going down to that extent, we would say the message is driving home,” he said.

However, he said there was need to value-add exports.

“The other thing as well is that in large measure, our exports are primarily of commodities and, therefore, the value is relatively lower than the finished goods that we import. So, there is need to value-add locally so that we can also increase our imports, our imports of value added products are also as self-evident.”

Hwengwere said Zimbabwe was too dependent on imported goods like petroleum products.

“In Zimbabwe right now, the preference particularly on food is really Zimbabwean products and so to that extent I think it has worked. The private sector engagement is also an area that we need to work much more closely on, so that in general we then say we’re working on the public procurement, public awareness campaigns, private sector to private sector,” he said.

“The other thing is to build a national database so that we can understand products and services that are generated in Zimbabwe and seek to link them to the local markets.”

Hwengwere said the sector was working on targeting the weakest areas of the campaign in support of locally-manufactured goods.

“It is not true that Zimbabweans prefer imports. What is true is that Zimbabweans prefer imports in certain categories of products such as high-end products, electronic products, clothes and the like,” he added.

“But again, Zimbabwe has never advocated for a situation where we say we are now an island. We accept that there are areas of comparative advantage that other countries have and we always have to trade anyway.”

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