The booming practice of importing vehicles from Asian countries, such as Japan and Singapore, into Zimbabwe for resale is set to be nipped in the bud, with plans underway to ban the lucrative trade, which is negatively bearing on the local motor industry.
Opening the Second Session of the Fifth Parliament of Zimbabwe earlier this month, President Robert Mugabe alluded to this, raising that legislation would be put in place for a phased ban of second-hand vehicles and use of retreaded tyres on public service vehicles.
Local motor industry players are adamant that the government’s intervention in the motor industry would help to revive the ailing sector, hard-hit by years of scarce foreign currency.
The Matabeleland area chairman of the Motor Industry Association of Zimbabwe (MIAZ), Reggies Mafukidze Sibanda, said, “We submitted a policy document on grey imports and they are not suitable to the Zimbabwe situation.
These cars are sent here without spare parts and compete with local cars.”
Sibanda revealed that the association has been lobbying for the ban on grey imports. The importing of second-hand cars has of late proved to be a hit in the country as most of these vehicles are cheaper than the local cars. Local media adverts are also awash with car dealers offering buyers a bargain in purchasing their ex-Japanese vehicles.
A popular website for many car seekers is the online classifieds website accessible on www.classifieds.co.zw. Here buyers can view vehicles, contact the seller and purchase a vehicle if they like it.
A general overview of some of the import vehicles such as the Nissan March for sale on the website shows that one can part with at least US$3 000 for a good condition second-hand vehicle. A bargain of sorts, compared to the steeply priced local cars that can run up to as much as US$5 000.
Said one proud owner of a second-hand Nissan Lucino, Kudakwashe Chiyangwa, “These ex-Japanese are affordable and the price is better than what you would pay for the same car locally, which might not even be in good condition.”
The popularity of cheaper cars from Asia is not a new trend with a similar cycle having occurred in the 1980s when low priced and high quality vehicles from Japan flooded the American market. Neighbouring South Africa, in a move to protect its own local motor industry, does not allow for the import of second-hand cars from Asia and grey imports destined for north of Limpopo river cannot be driven on that country’s roads.
Sibanda expressed hope that the high prices in the local motor industry would be a thing of the past as the economy was now showing signs of recovery.
“We have seen prices coming down drastically because of the use of foreign currency and spare parts are affordable.”
Some car dealers in the city are offering credit terms of up to 12 months on new vehicle purchases.