PRODUCTION at Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries (WMMI) has slumped to 800 cars a year from a peak of 8,000 in 1997 due to the influx of imported second hand cars, the company’s managing director Dawson Mareya has said.
The government has since moved to ban the importation of second hand vehicles older than fives years in a bid to protect the local industry.
Mareya told journalists during a tour of the assembly plant that uptake of locally assembled cars was low as many people were buying second hand vehicles which were cheaper.
He said the government should further support local manufacturers by reinstating the 40 percent import duty which was scrapped in 2009.
“As a country we should not be shy to apply measures that are intended to save and grow our industry. The primary purpose for imposing duties is to level the playing field,” said Mareya, noting that if protected, WMMI had potential to meet local demand.
The WMMI chief said a decline in output at the company had affected a number of down stream industries such as local spare parts manufactures who have either suspended operations or cut-back on supplies due to dwindling demand from assembling plants.
He suggested Zimbabwe should follow the example of South Africa which has a policy to protect its local industry, in addition to reinstating duty on vehicle imports.
“We are proposing that government reinstates duty on motor vehicles to levels prevailing prior to July 2009,” he said.
“We also have to develop a Zimbabwe Motor Industry Development Policy to provide a roadmap for the resuscitation of this very important sector of the economy.”
Mareya said operational challenges forced WMMI to cut its workforce from about 800 in 1997 to 120 employees.
The company had also been forced to close its assembly plant in Mutare.