LAST year in November, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube announced that imports of second-hand vehicles more than 10 years old were to be banned to contain the import bill, promote the domestic motor industry and cut greenhouse emissions.
Prof Ncube, who was unveiling the 2021 National Budget, noted that Zimbabweans had spent about US$1,3 billion on the imports of buses, light commercial and passenger motor vehicles from 2015 to September 2020.
He said the local motor industry had the capacity to assemble the range of motor vehicles being imported into the country.
At the beginning of this month, Statutory Instrument 89 of 2021 came into effect.
Under the law, second-hand vehicles manufactured 10 years ago, except commercial vehicles and those for agricultural purposes, will no longer be permitted into the country.
Yesterday, we reported that the volume of second-hand vehicle imports coming into the country through the Beitbridge Border Post has since started to fall.
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) spokesperson Mr Francis Chimanda said they were now processing import documents for an average of 22 cars daily at Beitbridge, Malindi, and Manica transit sheds.
“Prior to the implementation of Statutory Instrument 89 of 2021 on April 2, we would process import documents for 60 vehicles at Beitbridge per day. That has reduced to an average of 22 cars,” he said.
While many will cry foul as they can only afford cars older than 10 years, the bigger picture is that this is a major boost for the local motor industry.
The problem of vehicles which fail to meet environmental and safety standards could also be eliminated.
Much-needed foreign currency can be used locally instead of promoting the economies of other countries.
This move by Government must now be supported by industry. Government can only do so much.
Affordable vehicles must be assembled locally and payment terms must be relevant to the prevailing economic challenges.
Government departments and parastatals can also support the initiative by buying local.
Luxury cannot be at the expense of achieving Vision 2030. No foreigner will come and support Zimbabwe’s motor industry when Zimbabweans shun it.
Global warming is also real. The major reason why second-hand vehicles older than 10 years are cheap in developed countries is that they are no longer wanted.
Africa has become a dumping ground for vehicles that do not meet environmental standards.
Already, motor vehicle manufacturers in Europe are switching to electric cars, with some are going as far as self-driving electric cars.
Clearly, cars that cause pollution will have to make way for environmentally-friendly models.
So where exactly does Zimbabwe stand in all this? Is Zimbabwe a dumping ground?
As the famous Dutch saying goes, “cheap is expensive”. Cheap second-hand cars will cost us our environment, our industry and our foreign currency.
We commend Government under the Second Republic for biting the bullet through the National Development Strategy which underscores value addition.
We can not achieve the dream of becoming an upper-middle income economy on the back of old cars being dumped for a fee that is too high.