Zimbabweans in panic buying in SA before the new bill comes into law on Wednesday(31-07-07)

By Mthulisi Sibanda
PARK Station in Johannesburg was yesterday (Tuesday) a hive of activity as Zimbabwe-bound cross border traders and travelers alike made a last ditch attempt to transport their goods to the country before a new law that came into effect today (August 1


The Control of Goods (Import and Export) (Agriculture) Regulations, 2007, a new law that outlaws the wholesale buying of some goods from foreign countries for resale in Zimbabwe, comes into effect today.

The law has come under fire from economists and informal traders who believe it will worsen food shortages in the crisis ridden country as well as rendering thousands surviving on informal trade jobless.

“This obviously will make worsen the shortages of basic commodities. It is a ploy by government to force people to produce the goods that are not in supply by starving them. Very few people will be able to produce, worsening the populace’s suffering,” said Zimbabwean economist and social commentator, economist Luke Zunga.

To cross border traders to whom the shortage of commodities in Zimbabwe had made cross border trade lucrative, it might spell the end of it all. The informal sector is the highest employer in that country following the collapse of many formal businesses.

“It is common knowledge that with the worsening economic situation, cross border trade was keeping us and our families afloat. This law spells trouble to our means of livelihood. By buying goods for resale in Zimbabwe I was able to make profit to send my children to school. As it is, this might be my last visit to South Africa on business,” said a distraught Bongani Ndebele, a cross border trader and mother of two.

Cross border transporters, which comprises taxis and buses, said business was brisk yesterday but said the law will compromise profitability of their businesses.

“Very few, if any people are going to send their goods to Zimbabwe using our services. This will see our businesses unfold,” said a malayitsha who only referred to himself as Tshuma, in the teeming Park Station Taxi Rank in Johannesburg.

‘Controlled’ goods whose entry outlawed include cooking oil, fruits, beans, meat, milk products, poultry products, maize meal and sugar all which have disappeared from supermarket shelves after a price freeze ordered by government last month- CAJ News.

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