Minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha has said that the Statutory Instrument 64 is here to stay. A contradicting statement to his recent remarks that had him stating the government had plans of doing away with it. The minister said this during a tour on the Hanawa Super Foods plant, a new food industry plant which produces potato chips, in Harare yesterday.
“SI instrument is part of the ZimAsset.” said Bimha.”It was meant to regulate imports not to ban them” continued Bimha in defense of the instrument that was met with riots in Beitbridge last year.
In an article in the Chronicle over the weekend, Bimha was quoted saying that the government was going to do away with the SI 64.
During the plant visit, the minister encouraged the partnership between the government and entrepreneurs saying that the two sides had to work together.
“The Statutory Instrument 64 was gazetted in June 2016 with recommendations from the local industry and based on study and consultations with the manufacturers” according to Veritas.
SI 64 & Local Businesses
During the launch, Hanawa Super Foods, took the chance to request for a permit to import potatoes from South Africa since they were few in Zimbabwe. SI 64 states that imports are only allowed on instances where the local producers are not able to satisfy the local demand.
“The company requests to temporarily import potato from South Africa” said Tendai Gwekwerere the sales and marketing manager at Hanawa Super Foods.
The type of potatoes needed is the fianna and the pimpernel which is grown by a few farmers in the country. The opening of such an industry is a market opportunity for the farmers in Zimbabwe. However, farmers in Zimbabwe have met many challenges in getting inputs such as seeds, fertilisers, and enough water for irrigations according to Zimbabwe Projects. This has resulted in most of them producing products of low quality.
Besides the problem in importation of potatoes, the company’s sales and marketing manager Tendai Gwekwerere said that the raw materials in Zimbabwe were expensive and the competition with other industries was unfair.
The company, that currently employed 40 people according to the Managing Director Simba Zhou, has got plans to produce its own energy which helps minimize the power energy that comes from the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA). Electricity produced by ZESA in Zimbabwe has not been enough for the nation and some electricity has been imported from South Africa’s Eskom.
The chairman of Buy Zimbabwe Products Munyaradzi Hwengwere, one of the guests during the tour was happy with the courage shown by Bimha who stood with the policy during the public outcry that happened when the SI 64 was gazetted last year.