Oliver Kazunga recently in Victoria Falls
THE Government will consult stakeholders before promulgating another local content policy that seeks to drive the country’s industrialisation agenda across the value chains in different economic sectors.
Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Mike Bimha said this during the 7th Buy Local Summit and Investment Forum that ended in Victoria Falls on Friday.
He said when Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 was introduced extensive consultations with stakeholders including Cabinet were not done as was the case under normal circumstances.
“With SI 64/2016 we did it the other way round. We did a paper for Cabinet after the SI had been promulgated and people said, no minister why did you do that? There was a very good reason, I had had a very good number of discussions with the President (Robert Mugabe), where he was questioning why we were having these cheap imports, and he raised it so many times,” he said.
“As a ministry, we were very much aware that our house was on fire. And if your house is on fire, you don’t actually tell people that let’s come and discuss whether it is on fire or not. We decided to come up with the instrument and obviously when there was a lot of noise at Beitbridge and so forth, they were also questioning in Cabinet to say what is this thing that we hear about.
“And I said I will bring a paper next week.”
He said the country had been flooded with cheap imports because the Government had allowed Zimbabwe to become a net importer without questioning. When SI 64 was promulgated, he said, the Government engaged regional trading partners such as South Africa and they understood the Government’s position.
Through SI 64 of 2016, which removes several goods from the Open General Import Licence, the Government has managed to control the influx of imported products. As a result, the local manufacturing sector has improved capacity utilisation to about 47 percent last year.
The Statutory Instrument has also seen some companies boosting their employment numbers. Zimbabwe’s import bill has also gone down remarkably. Dr Bimha reiterated that SI64/2016 was a dimension of local content policy and thus it is there to stay.
“SI64/2016 is a dimension of local content policy that we would consult stakeholders before promulgating and therefore there is no way we would then say “bye-bye” SI 64 because we now have a local content policy,” said Dr Bimha.