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Cross-border grocery shopping trips decline

by Staff reporter
05 May 2022 at 07:10hrs | Views
THE number of locals travelling to neighbouring countries such as South Africa and Botswana to buy groceries has considerably gone down following a steady rise in capacity utilisation in the local manufacturing sector.

Zimbabwe's manufacturing sector is on a solid recovery path with locally produced goods now constituting 75 percent of shelf space due to increased capacity utilisation.

The manufacturing sector is benefiting from the Import Substitution Strategy and Local Content Policy launched by the Government, coupled with the favourable ease of doing business environment.

Growth of the sector and a steady increase in industrial capacity utilisation is being registered as the Second Republic continues to avail the requisite support and enabling environment towards the resuscitation and growth of industry and commerce.

President Mnangagwa has on many occasions urged Zimbabweans to buy locally manufactured products given the significant growth of the manufacturing sector that has seen an increase in capacity utilisation and ease of doing business anchored by the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).

The manufacturing companies' capacity utilisation clocked 66 percent by end of last December.

A cross-border truck (umalayitsha) pulls into Plumtree Border Post. The cargo is mainly hardware products

A Chronicle news crew yesterday visited Plumtree Border Post and observed that a majority of travellers entering the country from Botswana were not carrying groceries. Most of the items which were brought into the country were building materials.

In the past, most Zimbabweans would opt to cross into neighbouring countries to buy basic commodities such as cooking oil, laundry soap and rice, which were in short supply in local supermarkets.

In an interview, the acting regional immigration officer in charge of the western region, Mr Blessing Marwa said there has been a sharp decline in the number of cross-border traders and day trippers crossing to Botswana to buy groceries. He attributed the decline to the availability of locally produced goods in local supermarkets.

"At our peak before Covid-19, we handled between 2 500 to 3 000 travellers daily, but the number has gone down to 800 at the moment and this is indicative of a host of factors, which could be an issue to do with compliance to recommended Covid-19 prevention measures, which require those fully vaccinated to cross the border," he said.

"Another reason could also be the fact that most goods are now locally available and out of the 3 000 people that we normally handled before the pandemic, about 95 percent of them were people going to Botswana to access basic commodities and other groceries for resale, but we have seen a sharp drop of 68 percent of that figure."

Chronicle also observed that tuckshops outside the Plumtree Border Post were fully stocked with local products.

Ms Rose Ncube, who operates a tuckshop said: "I used to buy my stock from Botswana, but I have stopped because most of the products that I sell are now available locally, which therefore makes no sense for me to cross to Botswana."

The news crew also caught up with a cross-border transport operator plying the Zimbabwe-Botswana route who revealed that he last brought a consignment of groceries seven months ago.

"I am a regular cross-border transport operator and I will tell you that it's seven months since I last brought a consignment of groceries from Botswana. My clients now opt to bring building material and money home. This is because most of the basic commodities are now produced locally," said the cross-border transporter who declined to be named.

Ms Monica Ndlovu, a cross-border trader said she has scaled down on buying groceries from Botswana.

"For the past five years, I have been into cross-border trade, buying grocery items from Botswana for resale back home. Although I still cross the border to buy groceries, most of the items are now locally available, which makes it less profitable to continue importing them," she said.

During the just ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZIFT) in Bulawayo there was dominance of locally produced products which were exhibited.

Riding on the comprehensive economic policy reforms being implemented by the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa, the productive sector is increasing its output, and this has seen local industries reclaiming their shelf space in retail shops, as well as occupying most of the stands at the prime trade show.

According to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), the largest industry body in the country, businesses are bullish about the prospects, with capacity utilisation rising from 47 percent in the first quarter of 2021 to 66 percent by end of last December.

Source - The Chronicle
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