Last week the government announced that as part of their emergency measures to stem the rising tide of inflation they would be allowing people to import certain basics into Zimbabwe duty-free. We rolled our eyes and pointed out that South Africa, the main source of these imports, had not been spared by the rising tide of food inflation either. However, the import exemption is likely to lessen the negative effects of rising food prices especially that now we have the specifics instead of the vague statement released last week.

Anyway here is the list of items that you can now import duty free into the country:

  • Rice
  • Flour
  • Cooking Oil
  • Margarine
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Maize meal
  • Milk Powder
  • Infants Milk Formula
  • Tea, whether or not flavoured
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Toothpaste
  • Bath Soap
  • Laundry Bar
  • Washing Powder

The exemption has created controversy

Not everyone is celebrating the scrapping of duty on imported basics. Local manufacturers are already screaming murder at the government accusing them of endangering local producers. The thing though is that local producers have failed miserably to meet demand and a number of them have chosen to hike the prices of their products and profiteer from the shortages instead of cranking up production. There is also the fact that locally made goods tend to be expensive to make because they are expensive to make due to higher costs of production. There are inputs like petrol, diesel and so on that are imported at a higher cost compared to those incurred by say, South African manufacturers. This means that local producers have very little control over the costs they incur and they have no choice but to charge higher prices in order for them to recoup their costs.