BUY Zimbabwe Campaign, in partnership with other stakeholders, is set to host the inaugural Buy Zimbabwe week in Bulawayo early next month in a bid to conscientise people about the need to buy locally-produced products.
by Our Correspondent
Speaking in Bulawayo last week, Buy Zimbabwe’s business development executive, Alois Burutsa, said Bulawayo companies had suffered due to the influx of imports.
“A lot of companies have actually closed in Bulawayo and many people have lost their jobs. The reason why we have a lot of company closures in Bulawayo is because people prefer imported products to local products. Many household products are from South Africa and Botswana and that has sent many companies out of business,” said Burutsa.
He said Buy Zimbabwe was a week-long campaign that seeks to raise awareness on the importance of buying and consuming locally-produced products and services.
“Buying locally-produced goods will save jobs for thousands of qualified and unemployed people in the city of Bulawayo and also help to revive Bulawayo’s economic fortune and improve lives of the general populace,” said Burutsa.
“We want to see companies such as United Refineries, Dunlop, Tredgers, National Blankets, Arenel, Lobel’s increasing their capacity utilisation and creating more jobs in Bulawayo.”
However, he admitted that some locally-produced goods were still highly priced.
“Currently, the local prices of goods are very uncompetitive even if you check on the exports figures. The exports are actually coming down and so far in the first half of 2014 we exported products worth US$1,5 billion as compared to US$1,8 billion last year,” said the Buy Zimbabwe official.
Burutsa said local products were not competitive because capacity utilisation was low.
“The capacity utilisation is low because there is low demand. We are not supporting our local companies. What we need to do if we are to turn around the situation is to go through a period of sacrifice. We have to sacrifice and pay for that extra dollar or extra five rand for any expensive product as long it is a Zimbabwe product,” said Burutsa.
“The more we support those products; in the long run the price will come down because the capacity utilisation will increase. When the capacity utilisation increases, the unit cost will go down and obviously that will translate to lower prices. At this particular moment we have to accept those high prices.”
The official said in some instances the prices of locally-produced goods was coming down such as Mazoe orange crush and the local cooking oil because the companies were now producing more volumes.
He bemoaned that about US$8 billion is being spent on imports every year.
“Around US$8 billion is being taken out of the country every year and for a country that has little Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) where last year we had only US$400 million FDI compared to Mozambique which had US$5,9 billion. If we could save that US$8 billion, it would go a long way in solving the credit crunch since banks have no money and are not lending,” said Burutsa.
The highlights of the Buy Zimbabwe week, which starts from November 1, include promotional road shows, interactive community meetings and public exhibitions.