Anita Fleming/Roadwin Chirara
THE Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has slammed the influx of cheap Chinese products on the market which it said threatened the footwear and textile industries.
The consumer watchdog said China was dumping its low-quality products on the Zimbabwean market.
Zimbabwe has been hard hit by the influx of goods, mostly from Asian countries which have a very short lifespan.
CCZ spokesperson Tonderai Mukeredzi said they had received numerous complaints from consumers about substandard footwear products.
“As a consumer watchdog, we have noted an increase in the number of complaints by consumers against the sale of substandard products from countries in that trading bloc (Asia),” said Mukeredzi.
He said consumers who bought defective goods faced resistance from shop owners in seeking redress.
Trade and Industry minister Dr Samuel Mumbengegwi told parliament last week in response to questions from MPs that the Standards Association of Zimbabwe was responsible for the quality of goods imported from China.
“This is a very subjective question and I am not sure by what measure the honourable member would conclude that an import is of substandard quality,” said Mumbengegwi in reply to a question by Kambuzuma MDC member of parliament, Willias Madzimure on what measures government had taken to protect the local industry from cheap Chinese imports.
“In this country we have a standards association that determines the quality of products either produced or imported into the country,” said Mumbengegwi.
However, the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) has refuted claims that it approves the goods imported into the country.
SAZ spokesperson George Makore said testing of imports was not the association’s responsibility.
He said SAZ was not aware of how the products were coming into the country and thus they could only test them if the law required them to do so.
“As far as the association is concerned we require a legal backing to make the testing mandatory. So far we have not carried out any tests on these products,” said Makore.
Last week Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions acting secretary-general, Collen Gwiyo, called on government to protect local industry from the influx of Asian products. He said government was not concerned about the quality of the products coming into the country which threaten local industry and the loss of jobs.
“They simply opened up the markets, and they are not concerned with the quality of the products,” said Gwiyo.
He said the leather industry was suffering because of the increase of cheap products from the Far East, adding that some government officials were benefiting from these imports at the expense of the poor who are forced by hard times to buy them.