STUNG by the job losses and continued inflows of goods from the Far East, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has raised concerns on the dumping of finished and cheap quality pro
ducts in the country.
Acting ZCTU secretary-general Collen Gwiyo said the government’s decision to look to the Far East had hit hard some of the local industries, especially those in the leather, electrical and clothing industries.
“We have always raised concerns on the opening up of our markets for a long time but government refused to listen,” he said.
“Problems really started when our previous trade agreement with South Africa was cancelled soon after their Independence. From Zimbabwe’s economic point of view it makes sense to go back to the previous agreement with its neighbour.”
For the past two years, Zimbabwe has begun to experience a massive influx of shoddy and inferior products largely from China, Malaysia, Pakistan and Singapore.
The products, which have literally flooded the market, have since led to the slow collapse of the local industry, something which the government appears not be taking into consideration.
The economic and policy shift has seen the government appealing to local industrialists to do more business with companies from the East.
Previously, industrialists and employers used to do a lot of business with many Western countries but since the introduction of sanctions after the election in 2002, the government has been heavily lobbying that the latter do more business with the East.
“We are not only worried about the sub-standard products from the Chinese, Malaysian or Singapore products,” Gwiyo said.
“Many times the workers are paid poor wages that are way below the minimum quality threshold. The truth is that government is to blame for our problems in the industries right now. They simply opened up the markets, and they are not even concerned with some of the quality of the products.”
Gwiyo said many of the products which find their way into the country, were not durable at all in the process citing the example of the high inflow of shoes from the East.
He said most of the shoe products did not have a long life-span when compared to the shoes that were made locally.
“Zimbabwe has got one of the best leather industries in the world, but right now a number of employees have been affected by the shoes made from either China or Malaysia,” he said.
“Worse still some of the products do not even last for 10 months. We are also worried that when these so-called new investors come here they bring in a huge number of experts, at the expense of our local guys.”
Gwiyo said the economy was not largely benefiting from the influx of goods from the Far East.
“Some government officials are benefiting from their coming here, but if you look at it the country has nothing to show for their investments,” he said.