Leather industry slump

A shortage of hides and obsolete machinery is affecting the small-scale leather industry here.

A small-scale leather dealer in Bulawayo.
A small-scale leather dealer in Bulawayo.

“Most of the equipment we are using has outlasted its life span and constantly breaks down. Most of the equipment was imported from Europe and it is very difficult to replace the spare parts,” said Gladmore Ncube, who runs a tanning shop in the city.

Ncube said small-scale leather companies had not been able to secure funding from financial institutions, nor had they been able to access facilities such as the Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund.

Herbert Moyo, who runs a leather company in the Belmont industrial area, said the shortage of raw hides, particularly wild animals, had also affected business.

“There is a shortage of both livestock and game hides in the country”. “Most abattoirs are exporting the hides. The other problem is that most of game abattoirs where we used to get hides have all closed down following the land redistribution programme,” said Moyo.

Moyo said due to the shortage of hides, a lot of tanneries in the city were out of business. The situation is made worse by the high import duty charges on chemicals such as dyes.

In 2003, SADC council of ministers of Trade and Industry designated the leather industry as one of the eight strategic sectors for growth in Zimbabwe. At its peak, the sector used to employ more than 12 000 people but currently less than 3 000 are employed.

Post published in: Business

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