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Zimbabweans' appetite for imports remains high

by Staff reporter
31 Dec 2023 at 12:56hrs | Views
Zimbabweans still prefer imported goods despite increased production by local producers because most of the products are substandard, it has emerged.

For years, the local market has been dominated by imported goods as seen from the large import bill versus exports.

In the first 11 months of this year, Zimbabwe's imports were approximately Us$8 403 746 769 against exports of Us$6 674 481 806, a deficit of Us$1 729 264 963.

Consumer Protection Commission chairman Mthokozisi Nkosi said consumers were always after quality instead of sentimentality. Nkosi said local producers were no longer quality driven.

"They are not thorough when it comes to the quality of products and services," he said.

"It's not unusual to be sold sub-standard products where warranties and guarantees are not respected.

"Our businesses are deceitful. They misrepresent.

"For example, making false claims, selling expired goods through dubious promotions, and selling underweight goods among other things."

Nkosi said most businesses were not trustworthy, especially in service delivery.

"The majority don't feel protected by the authorities in the event of a service shortfall," he said.

"Service in healthcare, public transport, local authorities, etc.

"Quality of service is poor. The Country Customer satisfaction index hardly goes beyond 65%."

He urged buy Zim to work closely with the standards bodies and the Consumer Protection Commission to promote ethical business practices nationwide.

buy Zimbabwe chief executive officer Munyaradzi Hwengwere said Zimbabweans preferred locally manufactured foodstuffs, but when it came to high end products they favoured imports. "There is an element of imports that continues to flood our markets, especially high-end value goods and machinery," Hwengwere said.

"However, most foodstuffs consumed are locally made. it's really two issues. "The average Zimbabwean trusts local foodstuffs over imports.

"The local manufacturer has also become competitive in that area.

"Areas where we are weak are prices and availability, which have pushed imports to increase. some of these are clothes and footwear.

"Zimbabweans prefer imports in certain categories of products such as high-end products, electronic products, clothes, and the like."

He urged local manufacturers to improve the marketing of their products.

"We would wish that shoppers actively search for locally produced goods," Hwengwere added.

"For that to be done it requires strong marketing budgets, which we do not have."

Industry and Commerce minister Sithembiso Nyoni said the standards association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) was there to ensure locally produced products were up to standard.

"No product can get onto the market without saZ's approval," Nyoni said.

"SAZ is responsible for giving certificates and making sure all products are according to the standards of SAZ.

"If one manufactures a product without SAZ approval and the product has some effects or is dangerous to people, that person can be arrested, for example, if it's cosmetics and causes rash, you will be arrested."

"Even smes that are now supplying goods to bigger shops have passed through SAZ and SAZ has approved that.

"SAZ plays a very important role in the industry and commerce in protecting consumers from fake and substandard products that may end up causing harm to people."

Source - the standard