Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Clothing Manufacturers’ Association (ZCMA) is targeting to employ 35 000 people in the next five years largely driven by resuscitation of companies in the sector and promotion of value addition.
At its peak, before the economic hardships experienced in the last two decades, the clothing and textile industry used to employ over 35 000 people compared to 6 700 at present.
Briefing Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Raj Modi who was accompanied by ministry officials during a tour of Archer Clothing Manufacturers in Bulawayo last week, ZCMA chairman, Mr Jeremy Youmans, who is also the managing director of the manufacturing company, said:
“Our plan within five years is to get to 35 000 employees, we are at 6 700 at the moment. Raw materials are a problem and that will take time, nobody is going to invest in the textile industry here until we have got a ready market to deliver because the days of exporting to England and America are all gone,” he said.
“ . . . but there is an opportunity here for the textile industry, we know we have a lot of resources as a country and this sector can create massive employment through value addition.”
Zimbabwe’s clothing and textile industry collapsed largely due to stiff competition from imported products, antiquated machinery, and lack of working capital to retool.
Mr Youmans said the clothing and textile industry was bedevilled with challenges such as lack of access to funding for retooling.
“I am talking candidly, 1,2 million euros was recently made available out of Comesa (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) for the cotton chain and the money just got tied up in bureaucracy.
“We got to spend maybe 10 percent of that and that was very unfortunate because 1,2 million euros, we could have made a real difference with that,” he said.
Mr Youmans added that it was imperative for Government to emphasise the implementation of a Local Content Policy to promote growth and development of local industries.
“On local procurement, we think there should be a threshold required. We have an ongoing battle as manufacturers with chain stores here,” he said.
Government has hinted on the promulgation of a National Procurement Policy, which is aimed at bolstering the country’s industrialisation efforts to promote economic growth by providing guiding principles for the development of local industry through linkages and utilisation of domestic resources.
The policy will also complement the import management programme introduced by Government in 2016 as part of efforts to reduce the country’s import bill.
It is also hoped that the local procurement policy will go a long way in strengthening value chains as the need to meet local content requirements compels both Government and the private sector to procure locally.
Deputy Minister Modi assured Mr Youmans that Government under the new dispensation was working on implementing policies that remove bottlenecks hindering industrialisation.
He said he would work tirelessly to ensure that Bulawayo industries were rejuvenated to their former glory when the city was once Zimbabwe’s industrial hub.
“I want to see Bulawayo coming up again and that’s my reason for being here (Bulawayo) every week.
“I will do my best and everything within my power to make sure Bulawayo comes up again,” said Deputy Minister Modi. — @okazunga