Clothing manufacturers are optimistic of improved viability and have started engaging the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for greater priority in accessing foreign currency.

Despite perennial impediments to business facing clothing manufacturers such as cheap imports, and unavailability of raw materials locally, the sector continues to be resilient with 6 players in the industry having carved a niche export market and selling clothes to as far as the European market.

Zimbabwe Clothing Manufacturers’ Association (ZCMA) chairperson Mr Jeremy Youmans said against all odds, the sector is forging ahead and even lobbying for greater priority in accessing scarce foreign currency since it is biased on beneficiation of raw materials.

“There is too much foreign currency, we believe, being made available to people to import finished garments while manufacturers are waiting many months to have their raw materials paid for so we have advised this to the reserve bank that we believe they should be monitoring the banks more closely on how they are allocating those scarce resources.

“The RBZ did come up with a criteria where priority was to be given to raw materials for value adding industries and the clothing industry certainly is one of those, it’s one of the greatest value adders and a very big employer so we believe we should be priority number 1 in allocation of nostro funds,” said Mr Youmans.

Due to the closure of many textile firms, clothing manufacturers have to import many key raw materials while exhausting all locally made materials.

The ZCMA is also engaging government to fulfill the removal of school uniforms from the general import licence in line with pronouncements made in the 2017 national budget.

Local manufacturers have capacity to meet all the school uniform requirements.