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Used car import ban to stay in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe government says it will not reverse its ban on used car imports that are over five-years-old and Left Hand Drive vehicles despite legal threats from transport operators.

Secretary for Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Mr Patson Mbiriri
Secretary for Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Mr Patson Mbiriri

The ban will be implemented with effect from November 1 while left-hand-drive vehicles will be completely taken off the road by December 31, 2015. Many importers of vehicles, especially from Japan, are now congesting Beitbridge Border Post to beat the deadline.

The Transport Operators Association of Zimbabwe last week said it was mounting legal action against the Government on the legality of the ban, arguing that LHD vehicles were lawfully permitted in Zimbabwe by virtue of the Road Traffic Act 13:11, section 6 of the third schedule.

Secretary for Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Mr Patson Mbiriri last week said Statutory Instrument 154 of the Road Traffic Act would be effected on November 1. He said the Government had engaged transport operators several times and it was surprising that they were mulling legal action.

“If they contest we will challenge them, but that is not going to stop us from implementing Government policies. From the 1st of November we will start to implement this policy,” said Mr Mbiriri.

“We have consulted them (transport operators) prior to the announcement of this Statutory Instrument. We have engaged them both formally and informally and we are surprised to hear about these legal threats.

“Unfortunately, we have no information about those lawsuits and we are only reading about them in the Press.” he said. Mr Mbiriri dispelled rumours that the ban would have a negative impact on revenue inflows.

“We are losing a lot more as a country. A lot of money is going towards the purchase of vehicles of limited value than we are getting through Value Added Tax,” he said. Mr Mbiriri said LHD vehicles were responsible for most road accidents and to continue allowing their importation was tantamount to increasing road carnage.

But, TOAZ insisted that it will continue with plans to fight the ban in courts. TOAZ deputy chairman Mr Bernard Lunga said Government had never consulted them on the issue.

“We have never met Mr Mbiriri or the Minister (Nicholas Goche). They are refusing to meet us and whatever they are saying is not true. As TOAZ we have written about eight letters seeking to meet the permanent secretary or the minister, but they only responded to two letters.

“We are challenging the legality of that Statutory Instrument. In terms of the Road Traffic Act, LHD are on the road legally. You cannot replace a principal law using a regulation,” he said. Mr Lunga said LHD vehicles were cheaper.

LHD trucks were being imported for at least US$30 000 while locally assembled trucks cost about US$100 000. The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Communications is contesting the ban.