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Zimbabwe govt planning clamp down on smuggling

Monday November 18 2013

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe arrives for a Zanu party conference in Bulawayo on December 8, 2011. President Mugabe has described the city as a scrap yard due to massive de-industrialisation and job losses. PHOTO | JEKESAI NJIKIZANA | FILE

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe arrives for a Zanu party conference in Bulawayo on December 8, 2011. President Mugabe has described the city as a scrap yard due to massive de-industrialisation and job losses. PHOTO | JEKESAI NJIKIZANA | FILE AFP

KITSEPILE NYATHI
By KITSEPILE NYATHI
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HARARE

Zimbabwe says it is crafting legislation to restrict imports amid concerns that the smuggling of poor quality goods has killed the country’s once vibrant industries.

The southern African country, which is emerging from a decade long economic crisis, has recorded at least 700 company closures in the capital Harare this year alone.

In August, President Robert Mugabe described the second city of Bulawayo, once Zimbabwe’s industrial hub, as a scrap yard due to massive de-industrialisation and job losses.

Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha said the new laws would tighten controls at the country’s points of entry which he described as porous.

“My ministry is working on a piece of legislation which will create a regulatory authority with a responsibility of inspecting goods that come into this country,” he said on Monday. “Where the products do not meet our stands they will not be accepted into the country.”

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RAMPANT CORRUPTION

He blamed massive smuggling of poor quality products to rampant corruption at the country’s borders.

“We should admit that our borders are porous and poor quality products were being smuggled into the country much to the disadvantage of the industry,” Mr Bimha said.

“This dire situation was worsened by corrupt officials. We are going to engage the ministry of Home Affairs who are the law enforcers and the Ministry of Finance responsible for revenue collection to tighten screws at our borders to ensure that products that do no meet our local standards do not enter.

“We need to expedite the issue of one stop border posts to reduce the smuggling of poor quality products that do not meet our standards,” said the minister.

Last year, Zimbabwe banned the importation of second hand underwear saying that in addition to the products being a health hazard, their trade had killed the local industry.

The majority of Zimbabweans earn a living from the informal sector in a country with an unemployment rate of over 80 percent.

Some buy bales of second hand clothing from Dubai and China for resale.

Zimbabwe became the second African country to ban the importation of used underwear after Ghana, which stopped the practice in 1994.

The West African country began actively enforcing the legislation last year amid concerns the second hand garments posed health risks.