‘Local industry down but not out’

Business Reporter
Zimbabwean industries need to adopt a positive attitude and work on viable initiatives for them to remain productive and boost the economy, Buy Zimbabwe chairperson Mrs Grace Muradzikwa has said. Over the years, local industries have struggled to recover from the effects of an almost decade-long hyperinflationary environment that resulted in company closures.

Manufacturing companies are battling liquidity problems, obsolete equipment and low capacity utilisation while also suffering from the influx of cheap imports.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail Business on the sidelines of the Buy Zimbabwe conference held in Harare, Mrs Muradzikwa said industry was aware of the challenges affecting viability of its operations.

She said the current situation required players in the sector to remain resilient and adopt a fighting spirit to remain afloat. “The situation is tight, we are down but not out, as local industry. We need to develop a positive attitude for the economy to prosper,” she said.

A local export manufacturing survey released by ZimTrade for 2013 recently revealed that capacity utilisation had declined to 37 percent from 44 percent in 2012.

Mrs Muradzikwa said the development required all stakeholders to deliberate on available options to resuscitate the manufacturing sector. She said emphasis had to be on production costs.

The Buy Zimbabwe chairperson added that the issue of pricing and quality of products produced locally had to be addressed as a matter of urgency since they had potential to derail the whole Buy Zimbabwe concept.

“We need to relate pricing to cost of production and improve on quality. It is pointless to say let us close borders yet we might not meet local demand, hence the first step is to ensure that locally produced goods are of high standards and they come in quantities that satisfy the market,” said Mrs Muradzikwa.

The local market has resisted products manufactured locally due to their perceived poor quality. The ZimTrade survey reveals that only 42 percent of products from the local manufacturing sector were certified by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ).

However, the Buy Zimbabwe official noted that part of the problem was caused by the rigid certification process, which needed to be rectified.

“We have companies that are producing good quality products but they are not certified due to the rigorous process involved and we want that addressed so that we have more certified goods on the market,” said Mrs Muradzikwa.

Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha said failure to embrace the Buy Zimbabwe concept would result in the country importing more than 68 percent of its consumer goods, in turn adversely affecting the Gross Domestic Product.

Most of the imports that find their way into Zimbabwe come from South Africa and China.
Minister Bimha added that industry needed to address the technology gap as well as improve product visibility and competitiveness on both the domestic and international market.

The Buy Zimbabwe conference ran under the theme Building Competitiveness, Leveraging on Local and Global Opportunities.

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