Truckers’ strike in SA ‘could cripple Zimbabwe’
HARARE — Zimbabwe’s fuel, retail and tyre manufacturing industries are buckling under pressure from the freight workers’ strike in South Africa.
Trade between South Africa and Zimbabwe hinges mainly on moving goods by road and accounts for 70% of Zimbabwe’s imports.
Industrialists in Zimbabwe warned on Monday that the country stood to lose as much as $100m a day as a result of the truck drivers’ strike, which has affected the flow of goods through the Beitbridge border post — Southern Africa’s busiest inland port. Zambia, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo also use the Beitbridge border post to transport goods from South Africa.
Eric Bloch, an economist at H&E consultancy, said a meltdown could occur in Zimbabwe in a matter of weeks unless the strike was resolved.
"Many of the service stations are fast running out of fuel and the strike has affected our exports to South Africa," he said.
"The repercussions are very significant as the strike will bring everything to a standstill, a situation Zimbabwe cannot afford, given the shrinking economy."
Lucky Mlilo, chairman of the Association for Business in Zimbabwe, said the strike would result in increased congestion at the Beitbridge border post as the festive season rush began, placing the onus on the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to find "possible solutions to the anticipated build-up at all borders".
Kennedy Mandevani, MD of Dunlop Zimbabwe, which sources all of its raw materials from South Africa, said the company currently had "reasonable supplies" but was concerned that, if the strike continued, they might not be able to satisfy the market.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe said that the strike had had a positive effect, because in the short term it had boosted factory capacity utilisation, currently at 52%, according to the industry and trade ministry.
"Ironically, if the strike persists it will afford a chance for capacity utilisation to improve as it has been severely affected by the sheer number of imports, especially in the retail industry," the council’s executive director, Rosemary Siyachitema, said on Monday.