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Parastatal bosses and other State institutions will now be required to drive Mazda vehicle models following a directive to buy service cars from local assemblers such as Willowvale Mazda Motors Industries. This comes as Government moves to promote a buy Zimbabwe culture to protect local manufacturers from foreign competition.

The State Procurement Board is reportedly turning down requests by Government departments and parastatals to buy vehicles from outside the country.

The SPB is referring them to WMMI for luxurious cars and Quest Motors and Deven Engineering for buses and trucks.

The SPB implements Government policy on the procurement of general use or operational vehicles for the public sector.

The new policy is in line with the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation to boost local consumption to create jobs.

Sources in the SPB yesterday said the Zimbabwe National Army and the Zimbabwe Republic Police were the latest casualties, with their request to buy Isuzu trucks as operational vehicles being turned down by the SPB.

SPB chairman Mr Charles Kuwaza yesterday said his organisation would continue supporting local industry.

He said prices charged by local manufacturers should, however, be competitive. “We insist that pricing should, as much as possible, be competitive to avoid monopolistic tendencies,” Mr Kuwaza said.

“The Board continues to support local industrycommerce in many other areas other than vehicles. We must use locally manufactured medical supplies, industrial pipes and tubes, certain plastic products, furniture, filing cabinets, materials for uniforms, meats, eggs and vegetables and many other available goods and services such as auditing, accounting, legal, office cleaning and consultancies.”

Mr Kuwaza said some “inappropriate” cases did not need the SPB when buying vehicles.

“We implement Government policy to procure general use or operational vehicles for the whole public sector (ministries, parastatals and local authorities) from local assembly plants,” he said.

“Only where it is considered inappropriate are exceptions made and such decisions are made by authorities such as the Ministry of Transport in consultation with other arms of Government and not the SPB.”

SPB sources yesterday said they had, in the past weeks, referred several Government departments intending to buy cars to local assemblers or the Office of the President and Cabinet.

“We have all along been using Cabinet circular number 16 of 2011 which states that unless otherwise cleared by Cabinet, operational vehicles should come from local assemblers,” said one source.

“This saw a lot of the enterprises seeking authority to buy from companies like Zimoco from Cabinet, which was easily granted, but now with ZimAsset in place and calling for the promotion of local industry, it is now a different tune all together.

“We are referring them to local assemblers and if not satisfied we refer them to the Office of the President and Cabinet.”

Added another source: “Recently, the Zimbabwe National Army and the police wanted to buy over 200 Isuzu trucks for their members countrywide and we referred them to the OPC (Office of the President and Cabinet).”

WMMI has indicated that it is ready to assemble more than 9 000 units of vehicles per year, including affordable second hand vehicles that could be used by first time owners and low income earners should Government ban the importation of second hand Japanese vehicles.

Zimbabweans last year imported 206 519 cars worth over US$606 million.

That amount translated to about US$250 million in import duty accruing to the Government.

It is doubtful whether WMMI could ever meet such a high demand at competitive prices.

WMMI managing director Engineer Dawson Mareya said they were prepared to sell cars on hire purchase provided banks were recapitalised to support the move to make vehicles accessible.

He did not disclose how much the cars could be sold for, but a Madza 3 costs nearly US$20 000 at WMMI, an amount far beyond the reach of many.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has expressed misgivings over the importation of second hand vehicles which he said was a waste of foreign exchange.

Source : The Herald