Harare: Local furniture manufacturers yesterday accused their South African counterparts of pushing them out of business by importing sub-standard Chinese products into the country. Chairperson of the Furniture Manufacturers Association of Zimbabwe Neil Bruce told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Services chaired by Mazowe South MP Margaret Zinyemba that the South African exporters were taking advantage of Sadc regulations that allowed each country to export 10% of products into the region.
"South African furniture companies are now bringing fake Chinese furniture, which is not strong, into the country and this is done through forging papers and claiming it is manufactured in South Africa when actually it is 90% from China, Vietnam or Malaysia," said Bruce.
"If we have money for capitalisation of our industries and machinery, we are able to compete with any country because the problem is that we are not competing at a level playing field."
He said a lot of Asian imports were being dumped into the country through unofficial channels and at cheaper prices, thus crippling the Zimbabwean manufacturing industry. "We need government to get involved and give lines of credit because our industry dwindled four to five years ago and the dollarisation issue opened up competition from outside the borders," he said.
Chairperson of the National Employment Council for the furniture industry, Andrew Revolta, also told the committee that prior to dollarisation in 2010, the industry had 7 500 employees, but the figure had gone down to 2 200 workers.
"Some of the workers have gone into the informal sector because the minimum wages that the industry can pay is $235. If government can put in place policies to guard these workers against incessant increases in rentals for housing because most of their income is eroded by rent charges," Revolta said.