LOCAL bus manufacturers are being actively considered to assemble coaches for Government’s ambitious mass public transport system, as part of a broader initiative to encourage the purchase of locally manufactured goods, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube has said.
It is envisaged that supporting local industries and value chains would add impetus to local economic growth.
Treasury is expected to launch a new economic blueprint — National Development Strategy 1 — soon, and it is likely to contain incentives that deliberately promote the purchase and consumption of locally produced goods.
“We are trying to increase our fleet of buses so that our citizens are able to be transported cheaply; so we naturally need companies to supply us with buses and locally manufactured cars,” said Minister Ncube during a tour of industries in Mutare yesterday.
He toured Mutare car assembly giant Quest Motors, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) distribution company Mega Market, cooking oil manufacturer Willowton Zimbabwe and filter manufacturing company Kenrose Filters.
“Kenrose Filters is linked to the motor industry ecosystem. It is amazing what local engineers can do with support. We, as Government, should support local industries in our vehicle sourcing and also in bus manufacturing. We will see more of this happening over time,” he said.
Support of local industries by the Government, Prof Ncube added, would have incremental benefits for both the economy and the people.
“We need to promote the ‘Buy Zimbabwe’ mantra as it is important for us to support our local value chains and industries. A lot of it has to do with the incentive system that we need to put in place for that to happen.
“That is exactly what we are developing and fine-tuning to make sure that we make local goods more attractive than foreign products. So you will find that our policy will be changing in that direction to make sure we support domestication of local value chains.”
Quest Motors general manager Mr Tom Sarimana said Government needs to develop a local procurement policy that compels its departments to source vehicles locally.
If it secured the deal to supply Government vehicles, it would increase its production capacity significantly and create 4 000 to 4 500 jobs directly and indirectly, he said.
Currently, it is operating at less than 5 percent.
“Mutare has the only vehicle assembly company outside Harare and this is a positive for the devolution programme. All we are asking is for Government to buy from us; we need orders.”
Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba said the revival of key industries in Manicaland would push the devolution agenda and help the province to grow its economy.
“Our worry has been seeing these companies struggling as we are moving into the devolution project, where we want to see industry grow and emphasise on production and producing for the export markets. But the rate at which things were moving has been very slow, so we are pleased that Government now has an appreciation of the situation on the ground and understand the plight of our industry,” she said.
Local vehicle assemblers say they have the capacity to create thousands of jobs and revive the vehicle assembling sector.
Quest Motors and Willowvale Motor Industries (WMI), which are country’s foremost vehicle assemblers, insist they are capable of quality vehicles which can match imported sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
Last year, Government approved two key industrial policies — the Zimbabwe National Industrial Development Policy (ZNIDP) and the Zimbabwe Local Content Strategy — that are expected to steer economic growth.