Zimbabwe’s manufacturing firms want government to consider banning the import of second-hand clothes as part of reforms to protect the local industry, Parliament heard on Tuesday.
Used clothes have flooded the domestic market, compounding the woes of a local textile industry on the verge of collapse. Industry experts say Zimbabwe has a market for 80 million garments but only 20 million of those are locally manufactured. Almost 90 percent of imported new clothes are exempt from duty because of regional trade agreements, analysts noted.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) national council member Jeremy Youmans told a parliamentary portfolio committee on industry and commerce that industry requires access to long-term capital, as well as clarity on the indigenization and empowerment law among other measures to compete on the same terms with foreign companies that have established a foothold in the country.
“Second hand clothing in South Africa is banned, if they catch (anyone selling) they will burn it. Maybe that is something we need to consider,” Youmans said.
“As a clothing industry certainly, we have always said we don’t want to stop it because that clothing is being donated to some people who cannot buy clothes themselves.
“The problem is that they are not going to those people, they are going into our markets and somebody is buying those clothes, it’s a very difficult situation.”
He added that the revival of the cotton industry would be key in boosting capacity of the country’s textile industry.CZI vice-president Sifelani Jabangwe said Zimbabwe should improve its business climate to become competitive by doing away with bureaucracy which drives the cost of doing business.
“One of the challenges is that in order to comply with being formally registered, we have to be registered with a number of bodies depending with the nature of the business and they charge licence fees,” he said.
“When you add up these costs, individually they seem to be so low but when you add them up just to be formally operational it is actually a significant cost to the extent that this causing other businesses to close down.”