By Thupeyo Muleya
There is a dramatic increase in motor vehicle imports through Beitbridge border post as dealers are rushing to buy cars in South Africa amid speculation that Government will soon suspend the payment of duty in Bond notes.
After a review of the monetary policy and the introduction of a 2 percent tax on RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlements) related transactions, car dealers went into panic mode that duty on all vehicle imports would be levied in foreign currency.
Dealerships on the South African side of the border where most pre-owned vehicles from Japan, United Kingdom (UK) and Singapore are bought and shipped to Zimbabwe, said they were having brisk business since October 2.
There are more than 27 dealerships at the border (South Africa) selling second hand vehicles. It is further reported that eight others are setting up shop following the windfall from Zimbabwean buyers.
The Chronicle is reliably informed that vehicle import documents being processed at both Manica and Malindi transit sheds in Beitbridge have increased by more than 100 percent.
“A few weeks ago we used to acquit an average of 80 vehicles per day, but that has shot up to 180. We understand people are in a panic mode that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development (Mr Mthuli Ncube) will introduce the payment of duty on all vehicle imports in foreign currency soon,” said an official from Malindi transit shed who preferred anonymity.
Border authorities also confirmed that the number of vehicles Certificates of Customs Clearance (CCC) produced per day had increased.
“We are capturing more than double the number of CCC daily as a result of a sudden increase in vehicle imports from South Africa,” said a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) official at the border.
In separate interviews yesterday, car dealers in the neighbouring country said they were now selling between 30 and 40 vehicles per day in comparison to five prior to the announcement of the new monetary policy.
A sales manager at one of the biggest dealers (Wright Cars), Mr Clemence Mabidi, said there was a sudden demand for cars with bigger engines such as Mercedes Benz, Toyota Prado, Toyota Quantum, BMW, Honda CRV (RD7),
Toyota Hiace, Mark X and Volvo among others.
“We used to sell less than 20 vehicles per day and now sales have increased to about 40. There is a marked increase in the demand for vehicles with bigger engines, a deviation from the previous norm where people were buying smaller (light) vehicles which are fuel savers,” he said.
“You will note that there are 27 dealers around this area and others are contemplating leaving Durban to set up shop here. As a result of the demand we have also revised prices up, but still the cars are selling like hot cakes.
“For instance we used to sell a Honda Fit for $1 800. The same car now costs $2 300. Those with bigger engines are being sold for between $8 000 and $10 000”.
Mr Mabidi said even the small car dealers who used to sell between 5 and 10 cars per day were now selling up to 20 vehicles.
Major car dealers at the South African border include; Quest Royal, Wright Cars, Car Cade, Murree Motors, Noble Motors and KDG.
An importer needs at least $5 000 and $15 000 to import a vehicle with a small and bigger engine respectively. The amount is inclusive of purchase price and import duty. The duty is calculated at 96 percent of the buying price. The Chronicle