HARARE – The country’s imports are under threat with a possibility of creating shortages, after one of the world’s biggest shipping companies Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A (Zimbabwe) (Private) Limited (MSC) has written to authorities of its intention to stop the release of containers destined for the country in a bid to force it to pay off a $9 million debt.
In a letter dated January 8, 2019, to Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Sifelani Jabangwe and copied to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), MSC director Giorgio Spampinato, said the company’s decision was motivated by the fact that Zimbabwe was failing to settle its obligations.
“We…hereby notify you that we are contemplating the possibility of halting the release of containers to… importers who have not paid for our services at origin as well as discouraging the acceptance of cargo destined for Zimbabwe…
“Our decision would be necessitated by the fact that despite numerous engagements with various offices at various levels, our efforts of settling amounts due to our head office have been in vain and we remain unable to remit the long standing remittable funds for services already rendered to players in your industry,” Spampinato said.
Jabangwe confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that he had received the letter but had handed it over to RBZ to deal with the situation.
“I am sure it will be sorted out. We have handed it (the letter) to the RBZ because it (the decision) will affect on supplies,” he said. According to the organisation, its facilitation of trade through sea freight transportation of imports and exports has resulted in the accumulation of unremitted funds amounting to $9 103 111, due to their principals in Geneva Switzerland.
“In our bid to support sustained growth, development of the local economy as well as avert shortages of key economic commodities in the country and by extension, the availability of equipment to support the country’s exports, we say MSC Zimbabwe, as agents of MSC Global, have been collecting freight charges locally on behalf of MSC Global under the expectation and assurances that we would receive support to remit that sea freight portion in its totality to the owners. This has not happened,” Spampinato said.
He further said the company has supported the country’s imports of over 10 000 containers of mainly foodstuffs, agricultural inputs and raw materials as well as mineral exports.
“Our existence in Zimbabwe has been very instrumental in reducing foreign currency leakages by internalising certain costs associated with transport of commodities and we have also given leeway to importers to ensure that shortages of priority commodities i.e. agriculture inputs, mining equipment and food commodities are minimised but at MSC’s cost of failing to remit sea freight to its principals when it is needed,” Spampinato said.
“With the continued failure by the central bank to, having acknowledged our key role in trade, live up to their commitments, no alternative remains other than discouraging cargo destined to Zimbabwe to load on our ships and/or at the very best accepting cargo subject to full payment in advance payable direct to our principals.”