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Unavailability of raw materials in the country is destroying the leather and shoe industry

UNAVAILABILITY of raw materials in the country is destroying the leather and shoe industry which has been buffeted by cheap imports that have flooded the local market, a sector player has said.

Factory manager for Bulawayo-based Shoe Pack, Tembinkosi Wena, said government should reduce duty on raw materials to allow the sector to recuperate.

The company, which requires at least US$100 000 to recapitalise, produces 60 to 75 pairs a day although it has orders it cannot meet.

“Open the gates at the border and allow raw materials in,” said Wena.

“Anybody who is bringing the material, let him bring them in then you will see what is going to happen to this industry in the country.”

Wena was obviously calling for a duty suspension of raw materials imports.

He said the clothing industry players had a different position compared to those in leather simply because they have raw materials at their disposal and protection against cheap imports.

Wena said shoe-making raw materials in the country such as glue and PVC remained expensive and scarce, while the lining has to be imported.

Wena said shoe importers were better positioned than manufacturers arguing that had destroyed the industry.

“You still meet people that are selling left, right and centre,” bemoaned Wena.

“You go there people are selling, everybody is selling. Why? Because everybody has seen it cheaper to sell than to manufacture.”

He said the situation was even worse in Bulawayo, once the country’s industrial hub.

“Things are quite very bad for us, let’s not forget that things are bad for Bulawayo,” he said.

“I am now fighting with a person that is selling shoes in a flea market at US$10 a pair. At US$10 a pair this person has got no harassment, has got no tax to pay, has got nothing, has got no labour issues.”

He said the price could tell duty was being evaded but government appears to be doing little to protect shoe manufactures from such illegal imports.

Wena said a number of shoe-making companies had collapsed because of that.

“How many shoe companies are on their feet here?” he queried.

“And be very careful about suitcase companies.”

He said regrettably suitcase companies were the ones awarded tenders under circumstances which he said lacked transparency.

“Tenders have got a lot of filth into them, I can’t even enter them I can’t even win them. People that buy and sell are given tenders at the expense of manufacturers,” he bemoaned.

Source : Financial Gazette