By Caroline Chiimba
A number of product lines that have become household names in Zimbabwe are being smuggled out of the country, thereby depriving the fiscus of millions of United States dollars.
The Daily News can reveal that a number of popular brands manufactured in Zimbabwe are finding their way into countries such as Zambia and Malawi, through illegal means.
Manufacturers of some of the products revealed that while they were battling to meet local demand, they have been alerted to incidents whereby dealers were emptying supermarkets shelves and smuggling these out of the country.
Industry and Commerce minister Mangaliso Ndlovu confirmed the development, saying panic buying and the up-surge in parallel market rates have resulted in the hoarding of basic commodities manufactured locally, adding that these were being smuggled out of the country.
“They (smugglers) take advantage of the parallel markets rates when the US dollar gained massive value over the bond,” said Ndlovu, warning that smuggling poses a significant threat to the country’s economy as these culprits were evading payment of clearance fees.
“This is now a police matter, these people hoard basic commodities from retailers and smuggle them out of the country,” said Ndlovu.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president, Denford Mutashu, said while they welcome exports into the region and beyond to reduce trade imbalances, it was regrettable that some of the goods were getting out of the country through nefarious smuggling rings.
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) said it is now on high alert to deal with any form of smuggling.
“Members of the public are called upon to report cases of smuggling to the nearest Zimra office and the appropriate response will be taken,” said Zimra’s head of corporate communication, Francis Chimanda. DailyNews