Zimbabwe lifts ban on imports of basic commodities

23 October 2018 - 19:09 By James Thompson In Harare
A Harare food retailer's shelves reveal the scarcity of products for sale, including bread and meat, as Zimbabwe experiences renewed shortages
A Harare food retailer's shelves reveal the scarcity of products for sale, including bread and meat, as Zimbabwe experiences renewed shortages
Image: AFP

The Zimbabwean government has with immediate effect removed a ban on imports of basic commodities as Zimbabweans battle with acute shortages which are a result of panic buying.

A full cabinet resolution taken on Tuesday is that Statutory Instrument 122 of 2017- Control of Goods (Open General Import Licence) will be temporarily repealed until the situation normalises.

“Cabinet notes with concern that the basic commodities continued to be in short supply despite increased production by suppliers‚ thereby reflecting persistent panic and speculative buying‚” reads the resolution.

Products such as cement‚ bottled water‚ animal oils‚ body creams‚ cheese‚ cereals‚ ice cream‚ wheat flour and cooking oil‚ to mention a few‚ can now be brought into the country by individuals.

In recent weeks there has been a shortage of particularly cooking oil which normally retails for $3.35 (bond notes) for two litres but has been surfacing on the black market for $15 (bond notes) or an equivalent of US$4 in either South African rand or Botswana pula.

Most products on the grocery list were found in supermarkets such as Pick n Pay‚ which commands a majority share of the grocery retail industry. As such‚ allowing people to import privately‚ government said‚ means that price hikes will not be justifiable.

But local manufactures feel the move will affect them negatively since the instrument was put in place to protect local industries.

“It will create more pressure on the parallel markets and ‘street rates’ will hit 10 on the back of increased demand to satisfy new import lines‚” Busisa Moyo from United Refineries‚ a cooking oil manufacturing company‚ said.

The ruling party Zanu PF’s youth league claims the shortages that triggered the government’s decision were caused by “economic saboteurs and forex hoarders”.

However‚ government’s biggest challenge‚ fuel‚ is not on the list. Only five companies have the right to import fuel in Zimbabwe.


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