THE government has tightened screws on the importation of cement, cooking oil, milk products and soap among other products with effect from October 22.
Individual travellers and traders are now required to obtain permits for importing the products in accordance with Statutory Instrument number 126 of 2014 (Control of Goods [Open General Import Licence No.2] Amendment notice No 3) issued recently by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
Prior to the new development individual travellers were importing such goods in their personal capacity with no hassles at the border.
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce crafted the new regulations in terms of Section 4(1) (a) of Control of Goods (Import and Export) (commerce) Regulations published in notice 766 of 1974.
“This notice may be cited as the Control of Goods (Open General Import Licence (No 2) (Amendment) Notice, 2014 (No 3). The schedule to the control of goods (open licence No 2), 1996, published in Statutory Instrument 8 of 1996 and amended by Statutory Instruments 22C of 2000 and Statutory Instrument 6 of 2014 is amended by the insertion of the following— milk (liquid and powder packed for retail), potatoes, tomatoes and onions,” read part of the Statutory Instrument.
Other listed products are biscuits and yeast, cement, soap and soap preparations (for retail), plastic bags of polymers and tubes, pipes, conveyer belts and rubber hoses.
The new regulations spell doom for travellers importing these products from South Africa through Beitbridge Border Post.
While the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), which is the implementing agent, has not notified traders passing through the border about the latest development, the news crew has observed scores of travellers losing their goods at the border.
Travellers with the listed items suffered as Zimra officials confiscated them upon arrival.
By yesterday there were still no public notices at the Zimra counters with respect to the new developments.
Economists blame flooding of the local market by imports for killing the local industry and fuelling the import bill.
The hardest hit importers are those from the southern region of the country especially Beitbridge where people are used to buying groceries and building material from South Africa due to their proximity to the neighbouring country where prices are relatively cheaper.
On average a bag of cement costs R75 in South Africa and is being sold for up to $14 on the local market.
Scores of Beitbridge residents also find it easy to cross the border to buy horticulture products from Musina, which is 12km away as compared to the two nearest town Gwanda at 200km and Masvingo at 300km.
Zimra head of communications Canisio Mudzimu has not respond to written questions sent to him by e-mail last week.