Zimbabwe’s motor industry is set for revival as stakeholders converge to implement the newly launched Motor Industry Development Policy.
At its peak in the 90s the motor industry employed over 30 000 people with production of over 28 000 completely knocked down items annually.
Now the industry is a pale shadow of its former, providing just 400 jobs and contributing less than 0.2 percent to the country’s gross domestic product.
Players in the motor industry met in the capital to discuss ways of reviving the industry which is a key enabler to economic growth.
Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu says the new policy dovetails with Vision 2030 as enunciated by the government.
“The motor industry development policy stipulates the objectives of the government to make the country an exporter of vehicles from the current zero to 50 percent by the year 2030. The industry presents an opportunity to grow the economy by increasing capacity utilisation which is currently below 10 percent,” said Minister Ndlovu.
Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) Chief Executive Officer Mr Nyasha Chizu says the entity is ready to deal with loopholes in the procurement laws which favour only a few established dealers and hence derailing the growth of the industry.
“The procurement laws relating to the procurement industry need to be clarified as they are not clearly understood and at times misunderstood. The workshop aims to put on record sticking issues that will boost capacity,” Mr Chizu said.
A local car dealer Mr Simon Chakoma also concurred to the existence of an uneven playing field which is affecting the industry’s development.
“One big challenge is the corruption taking place in the award of tenders whereby they were designed in such a way that they suit a few established dealers but now we expect the new procurement laws to punish any malpractices,” Mr Chakoma said.
Veteran motor industry executive Engineer Dawson Mareya said spending $500 million annually on vehicle imports alone at a time when the country is grappling foreign currency shortages calls for immediate interventions to resuscitate the industry.
“The value chain is completely broken down and it is worrying that all players have gone out of business due to the economic downturn and that means that government should capacitate every player to reduce dependency on imports,” said Engineer Mareya.
A procurer of motor vehicles, the Central Mechanical and Equipment Department (CMED) says that it is alive to its crucial role of boosting all players, be it large or small.
“We implement government policy on procuring vehicles as well as for our key operations but in that effect there is need to incorporate all players for the long term sustenance of the industry,” said Engineer David Mhaka, CMED CEO.
Protectionist measures including the gradual phasing out of pre-owned imports over time to boost the local second hand vehicle market is expected to reduce dependence on imports and reduce the trade deficit.
However, one key inhibiting factor is the lack of access to affordable vehicle financing from banks, which remains out of reach of many even the country’s middle class.