"The Chinese will just take over our market," said an official from the Leather Industry of Zimbabwe (LIZ) in an interview.
"As you know each pair of shoes is charged US$5 and thus removing this will result in shoes becoming much cheaper and thus the cost of production for such companies as Conte Shoes (Private) Limited and Bata Holdings (Private) Limited, will become huge.
Bata is based in Gweru and is among the largest employers in the Midlands town.
"Chinese cheap clothes are already flooding the Zimbabwe market and we are not buying anything made locally.'
Zimbabweans are going for cheap clothes from China prefering them from the ones made here which are more expensive as compared to those brought from the Oriental nation.
The Zimra Commissioner General, Gershom Pasi, last year admitted that there could be a smuggling racket at the border but refused to admit that top heavyweights were being allgedly bribed by Chinese bosses based in Harare.
"The issue is political," Pasi said at a workshop held in Harare.
He said China and Nigeria have Favoured Nation Status (FNS) due to their signing of special papers with the Government of Zimbabwe.
As such they can bring in any goods without clearance from Zimra at borders.
Last year LIZ asked why shoes were landing into the country and costing less than US$5 each when there was a US$5 levy on each pair.
Some shoes are selling for US$2 for two pairs which comes out to be US$1 a pair in the country.
The business executives said the decision to scrap duty would have ripple effects on the struggling manufacturing sector which was already over-stretched and suffering from low production due to very high production costs.
"I don't think this is a wise decsion," a business executive said.
"The minister is just playing politics here and he will regret it when all is said and done."
It could not be readily established exactly why Minister Biti, had decided to remove the duty on clothes and shoes, but he has been removing duty on most items coming ionto Zimbabwe of late.
"This is just trying to flex his msucles against gershom Pasi whom he wants fired," said another tycoon in Harare.
"Their war is spilling into our pockets and we are the ones who will lose out."
Duty has already been removed on twin cab motor vehicles imported into the country as well as computer consumables such as lap-tops.Post published in: Business