The clothing and the textiles industry is under siege owing to a myriad of challenges from competing with cheap synthetic products from the Far East, as well as competing with smugglers of second hand clothes and cheap imports.
While players in both sectors welcome the revival of cotton farming by government they call on the authorities to enforce legislation to protect them from unfair competition.
The local clothing manufacturing sector and the textile industry is now a pale shadow of yesteryear glory when thousands used to be employees in the then lucrative sector.
Today most companies are operating below their full capacity as a result of the death of the textile industry and the importation of cheap synthetic fabrics which are far more affordable to locals when compared to cotton.
Mr Fungai Mupotsa, the factory manager for Playtime Manufacturers who at peak operations in 2006 used to employ more than 600 employees and now has a workforce of a 100 employees, said unfair practices by major retailers of clothing circumventing regional trading laws puts locals at a disadvantage.
His views are shared by Mr Solomon Marembo who runs budget investments formerly Seybrok which before the economic meltdown used to export clothing to Europe who adds that government must protect local industry by restricting cheap imports flooding the market while welcoming the revival of cotton farming by government one of the remaining few local textiles companies Spin Weave’s warehouse manager Mr Stewart Dandajena said the major challenge in the past has been the exportation of cotton to the detriment of local industry.
Cotton is an high end product which is not readily affordable for the majority said Abba managing director, Mr Paul Mudada who adds that the challenge remains that fashion being dynamic has resulted in demand for synthetic fabric which is only manufactured externally crippling the local sector.
Cotton crop assessment has indicated that more than 60 percent of the cotton produced by farmers this season is of the highest quality and grade but the only stumbling block is the thorny issue of side marketing by private contractors who did not sponsor farmers.