Cross border traders urge govt suspension of SI64 to allow grocery imports

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By Alois Vinga

THE Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders Association (ZCBTA) has called on government to urgently consider the immediate suspension of Statutory Instrument 64/2016 to allow the importation of critical groceries which have disappeared from local supermarket shelves.

The controversial policy measure banning imports was incepted by government in 2016 in attempts to protect local manufacturers from cheap imports which had flooded the Zimbabwean market.

At a press briefing Friday, ZCBTA secretary general, Augustine Tawanda said current shortages on food items and other important products justified the suspension of the instrument.

“In light of the above, we call upon government to urgently suspend Statutory Instrument 64 and relax other duties and taxes governing the commodities in order to make it easier for traders and other travellers to import groceries and the bulk of the much needed basic commodities.

“This will go a long way in bringing in competition, improving price stability which will ultimately force the situation to transform,” Tawanda said.

He pointed out that several investigations and theories on the root causes of the current price hikes will not help the cause of citizens who face hunger as commodities either disappear or are found at exorbitant prices on the black market.

“Whichever, the factors causing the price instabilities, the reality of the matter is that Zimbabweans are experiencing severe basic commodities shortages which are heightening the hunger and poverty levels,” he said.

Tawanda also said there was urgent need for the authorities to move with speed to avoid the problems that characterised the economy 2008 when there were massive food shortages.