Control of imports – confusion reigns


Confusion reigns over the Control of Goods (Import and Export)(Agriculture) Regulations, a law that will cost thousands in the informal sector their jobs as well as worsening foods shortages in Zimbabwe due to come into effect today.
The law bans the import of goods into the country from neig

hbouring countries particularly South Africa, from where thousands were helping their families back in Zimbabwe with commodities and most informal traders were buying from.
Such ‘controlled’ goods include cooking oil, fruits, beans, meat, milk products, poultry products, maize meal and sugar all which have disappeared from supermarket shelves after a recent price freeze ordered by government.
“The people of Zimbabwe are trapped by their own government. I have not heard of any country where people are stopped from buying goods that are not available in their country. This obviously will make the situation with regards to hunger worse. It is a ploy by government to force people to produce the goods that are not in supply by starving them,” said economist Luke Zunga, a board member of the Zimbabwe Civil Society Organisations Forum.
But the ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo, has refuted reports of the ban. According to a fax sent to CAJ News on Saturday, Khaya-Moyo said the Ministry of Industry and international Trade and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority had advised him that there was “no change of policy and that no ban has been imposed”.
However, people or businesses who wish to import bulk foodstuffs for re-sale into Zimbabwe should first apply for permits or licences from the Ministry Industry and International trade,” explained Khaya-Moyo.
He said the already existing standing rules and regulations on quantities of personal goods and foodstuffs that can be imported duty free would continue to be applied.
Buses plying the Johannesburg-Zimbabwe route and informal cross border transport operators, referred to as omalayitsha in South Africa, said the law would compromise their profitability as well as eventually kill their businesses which they said were their only means of survival, respectively.
South Africa-based Zimbabweans largely rely on the services of these transporters to send food to their starving relatives back home.
“The new law will result in few if any people sending their goods to Zimbabwe using our services. This will see our businesses unfolding. I
have been in this industry for more than a decade and if there was a time I feared my business will take a knock, it is now,” said a malayitsha who only referred to himself as Tshuma, in the teeming Park Station Taxi Rank in Johannesburg.
Cross border traders also bemoaned the new law. “The law is vague. I understand we now require permits to resale in our country the products that we buy here. It is common knowledge that it takes ages for government to issue permits to regulate any form of informal trade.
“That spells trouble to our means of livelihood. By buying goods for resale in Zimbabwe I am 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 Sihle Ndazi, a cross border trader and a mother of three. – CAJ News

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