EXPORTERS have raised alarm over the continued red tape and the soaring cost of doing business, compounding the ever-growing operational problems for local companies amid a rapidly worsening economic crisis.
The development is in stark contrast to the mantra by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that “Zimbabwe is open for business” and the government’s claims it has made progress in implementing the ease of doing business reforms.
Zimbabwe is ranked 155 among 190 economies in terms of ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings.
Ease of doing business for the export sector has continued to worsen as exporters pay 12 different fees to process an export order.
“For one or two a company pays ZW$20 000 just to export a product, and they have to go through a cumbersome process to pay this amount to different institutions.
“Exporters have to go from office to office to pay these different fees. Sometimes when an exporter pays for documentation they are told that the documentation will be ready in two days, but it comes out after one week,” ZimTrade CE Alan Majuru said.
Majuru added that there was need for an efficient payment system to avoid inconveniences at borders.
“So you need to streamline procedures, you can have a one-stop shop for export of goods and services, but before we put them in one room we have to look and see whether they are necessary and reduce human contact so as to remove corruption,” he said.
“There should be an electronic system where exporting companies can just apply for their permits instead of going from office to office.”
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Tamuka Macheka pointed out that excessive bureaucracy is hampering the smooth flow of business.
“We have allowed the world to make counterfeit Mazoe juice so this means they are taking jobs, growth and foreign currency from us, this means that Zimbabwe is getting robbed including Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra). Zimra then goes after industries that are trying to survive and milks them. l get worried when Zimra say they have reached their target yet they reach the target through milking and squeezing these companies,” Macheka said.
“If you look at calculations, you see that companies are spending a minimum of ZW$22 00 on generators a month due to power outages. So this is a problem which has to be addressed.
“I would have wanted to ask the (Finance) Minister (Mthuli Ncube) why he is reporting a surplus when the country is in darkness, which is a recipe for disaster for exports and companies.”
Macheka said the average exporter is forced to spend 99 hours on export document compliance and 88 hours on border administrative compliance.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Henry Ruzvidzo said that the power cuts poses a major threat to the country’s export viability.
“In the past month or so, we have really suffered crippling power outages, we have had information from our companies that they are in serious danger of losing exporting business,” Ruzvidzo said.
“And export relations are long-term and, if you lose it, to re-establish it is not an easy task. The lack of fuel is not helping the situation; even in a situation where you want to run generators, sometimes the fuel is not available.”
Zimbabwe is the 128th most competitive nation in the world out of 140 countries ranked in the 2018 edition of the Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum.