By Robert Tapfumaneyi
ZIMBABWEAN companies are losing millions of dollars due to unfair competition from both imported and smuggled inferior products, a report by the Auditor General Mildred Chiri has said.
The report, just released, also revealed shortcomings in the monitoring by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MIC) of the quality of goods being imported into the country, related issues of inadequate implementation of programmes, lack of reviews for Consignment Based Conformity Assessment (CBCA) programme.
“This in turn has led to low capacity utilisation prevailing in the local industry, which translates to low employment levels and depletion of revenues collected by the government, monitoring of the quality of goods being imported into the country,” Chiri said in her report.
“The audit noted the MIC did not have regulations governing the quality assessment of 87.5% of imported products coming into the country.
“The fact that most of the goods were not checked for quality, it increased the risk of substandard goods finding their way into the country.
“Audit noted that the Ministry intended to add 227 other products on the CBCA programme, however, at the time of audit on August 31, 2018, the recommendation had not yet been approved.”
The report went on to say that, second hand vehicles required inspection of mechanical and structural form at the source such that vehicles that failed to meet the set standards were not allowed into the country but that was not the case.
“Statistics obtained from Central Vehicle registry revealed that the nation had imported a total of 239 042 second vehicles for the period January 2015 to September 2018,” she said.
“However, the audit noted that on August 31, 2018 the structures for the implementation of the policy were not in place.
“The audit also noted that second-hand clothes and under garments were being smuggled into the country and sold at designated flea markets such as Mupedzanhamo in Mbare (Harare) and Chinotimba flea market in Victoria Falls,” Chiri said.
“My visit to Mbare revealed that there were ten warehouses which were packed to capacity with bales of second-hand clothing.
“In Mutare and Bulawayo, second hand clothes undergarments were being sold in the streets, despite a ban on the importation of second hand undergarments through SI 150 of 2011.”
The market surveillance also inspected blankets, which were supposed to be purchased under the importation licence.
“The flea markets and some clothes shops in Harare, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls and Beitbridge showed influx of blankets imported either from South Africa or Botswana,” AG said.
“The blankets were in two form; that is good quality blankets with care labels and properly sewn right round and across the blanket.
“The other substandard blankets were not properly sewn and were said to quickly bulge at the centre.”
She added, “The cheap blankets were directly affecting local producers such as Waverly Company.”
The audit covered a four-year period starting January 2015 to August, 2018 and was conducted to measure the efficiency and effectiveness with the Industry Ministry.