CAPTAINS of industry have commended the reopening of borders saying that it will bring about the much-needed economic relief to businesses, but have however, urged efficiency to be improved at all points of entry.
Cabinet last week resolved that the country can open all ports of entry, after successfully containing the fourth wave of Covid-19 that was fuelled by the Omicron variant. In a post-Cabinet briefing, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa said: “In view of the continued decline in new cases and deaths coupled with a declining testing positivity rate that is indicating that the community transmission has gone down, all ports of entry be: reopened but ensuring that all the recommended Covid-19 prevention measures are adhered to.”
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) association president Mr Denford Mutashu told Sunday News Business that the reopening of borders was a welcome move.
“The reopening of borders is a welcome development as Covid-19 cases tumble. It will increase economic activity through improved people and vehicular movement. Prices are set to stabilize as consumers will exploit competition between local goods and imports.
Consumers had suffered at the hands of a punishing local pricing that largely reflected parallel market exchange rate and speculative behavior in a highly informalised economy,” said Mr Mutashu.
He however, encouraged people to remain vigilant and never lower the guard in the fight against the pandemic.
Mr Mutashu said the relaxation of imports for wheat and corn will also go a long way in bringing the much-needed competition of supply in an environment where bread has become a luxury owing to high prices.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) national president Mr Kurai Matsheza said there were positive and negative effects to the reopening of borders.
“On a good note, business activity will be enhanced with control of movement of people. Some established businesses rely on runners and this is good. However, we urge efficiency to be improved at all points of entry,” said Mr Matsheza.
On the other hand, he said there were concerns in the sense that with increased traffic, spread of Covid-19 variants may increase especially considering that vaccination uptake was low in some countries.
CZI Matabeleland chapter president Mr Raymond Shoniwa said the challenge was the smuggling of goods.
“As an industry we pay duties for raw materials, making it difficult to compete with smuggled products which have a lower landed cost. We also must appreciate that during the shutdown there has not been any shortages, meaning that industry has been able to meet the greater part of demand of the local market which has seen an improvement in the capacity utilisation of companies,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) Matabeleland Chapter chairman Mr Mackenzie Dongo said as business they welcomed the move and were grateful to the Government for opening up the land borders.
“This is going to help a lot of upcoming businesses especially in the retail sector within the southern region looking at our proximity to South Africa especially Musina. It’s likely to improve trade and the supply side of products which usually leads to price reduction as a result of competition.
On another positive note it will create employment for our youths and upcoming businesses in the small to medium business categories as a result of value chain addition,” said Mr Dongo.
He said the other good thing about opening up the land borders was that it will lead to increased revenue collection for the fiscus and will also reduce the number of people crossing the borders through illegal crossing points.
Mr Dongo, however, said the opening up of land borders was likely to cause flooding of cheaper imported products which was likely to pose a threat to the local industries viability. ZNCC Matabeleland vice president, Mr Louis Herbst said the reopening of the border posts will bring relief to private sector and informal traders as well.