Covid-19 frustrates raw material imports

Zimbabwe’s captains of Industry and Commerce are worried that as more countries close their borders to counter the spread of the deadly Covid-19 (Coronavirus), the development will cripple the importation of critical raw materials and commodities for the services sector.

Zimbabwe heavily relies on raw material imports for its manufacturing industries while a number of consumer goods including grain are also being imported.

A majority of source countries that include China, Italy, Iran, Spain, South Korea, Germany, France, USA, Norway, Japan and Switzerland have been severely affected by the pandemic since its outbreak in mainland China last December.

The epidemic has already forced several global businesses to shelve public events and cut on foreign travel thereby exposing economies to severe losses amid a drastic drop in global stocks. In separate interviews yesterday, business leaders said the disruption in industrial operations was imminent unless the situation changes for the better.

“The outbreak of coronavirus is going to affect us. We may have had a bit of stocks but I think in the next few months we are going to feel the impact if China and other affected countries do not resume production soon,” Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) vice president, Mr Joseph Gunda, said.

He however said it was too early to evaluate the impact but definitely the suspension of production by big companies across the globe will impact negatively on local companies.

“Covid-19 oubreak is going to have an impact on the importation of raw materials and the industry is going to be affected unless the situation improves soon”, said Mr Gunda.

Association for Business in Zimbabwe (Abuz) chief executive officer, Mr Victor Nyoni, concurred saying Covid-19 was a threat to continued supplies and urged the business community to map strategies to minimise the impact.

“We are not sure if we will continue receiving supplies and there is urgent need to come up with survival strategies,” he said.

Bulawayo Chamber of Small to Medium Enterprises chairperson, Mr Energy Majazi urged members to seek alternative sources of imports that do not put members and the country at risk.

Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) in a statement advised its members to reduce travelling outside the country to limit chances of contracting Covid-19. Many countries including Zimbabwe and neighbouring South Africa which has 62 confirmed cases, have come up with measures to counter the spread of Covid- 19. At least 27 African countries have so far been affected by the virus with nearly 350 people having been confirmed positive. — –

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