What if Zimbabwe didn’t import second-hand Asian and European vehicles?

Botswana recently followed South Africa’s lead and banned the operation on its roads of vehicles older than five years imported from Europe and the UK. This has put Zimbabwean importers of these vehicles under pressure as they are now forced to either drive the vehicles through Namibia or put them on some sort of transport. Predictably the “sector” is up in arms.
Earlier this week a local car assembly and distribution company Quest Motors announced they are on the verge of closing their doors due to lack of business, spiraling costs and competition from importers of European and Asian vehicles. Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries the only other Zimbabwean vehicle assembler, has effectively stopped production of its sole vehicle, the Mazda BT-50 from once having three assembly lines working simultaneously. I Zimbabwe we talk a lot about our sovereignty, economic freedom and the entrepreneurial spirit, often with almost religious fervor. How then does this tie in with killing our local businesses in the name of self-enrichment and saving a buck? If we are serious about rebuilding our economy should we not then be lobbying our government to make locally assembled vehicles and financing more accessible? Instead of crying sabotage when the government tried to limit the importation of Left Hand Drive (LHD) trucks and cars, should we not instead have challenged them to make equivalent and safer vehicles available?
It makes simple sense to me that if our revenue authority, ZIMRA, charged fair duty on the importation of new motor vehicles instead of the current +100%, we would have many more quality vehicles on our roads leading to a lesser drain on financial resources and a lower death toll on our roads. We would also have more sustainable job creation in the motor industry and related sectors, allowing the ZIMRA to recover what they lose in duties from the many additional sources of income created. Not everyone and their uncle has to be a vehicle importer or trader, let’s look to other businesses that can contribute to growing a real economy. —