Zimbabwe Government To Ban Vehicle Imports

Robert "The Solution" Mugabe, shadowed by the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Constantine Chiwengwa, inspects the Guard of Honour before delivering his speech to open the second session of the seventh parliament of Zimbabwe.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 06 October 2009

Robert "The Solution" Mugabe, in his speech to parliament today, revealed that his and Tsvangirai's Inclusive Government is working on a "phased ban on the importation of second hand motor vehicles."

This was in the section of his speech where he spoke about the increasing number of accidents on Zimbabwe's roads. He and his government apparently are labouring under the illusion that the toll gates they put in place will earn enough to repair our crumbling highways and byways.

The Inclusive Government appears clueless and dead to the fact that the money from the toll gates in being abused at source as I revealed here a couple of weeks ago.

Not only that, the revenue, once it enters government hands, is not being accounted for separately, as recommended by the Mavambo party of Simba Makoni. Under this proposed scheme, the revenue would be deposited straight into a Road Fund, from where it can only be drawn against specific road building and rehabilitation projects.

Instead, the money being collected from these gates now is sent to the General Revenue fund, where it is instantly swallowed by lavish expenses and civil service salaries.

It is a skewed policy to ban the importation of second hand vehicles. Most of these are coming from Japan, with a very small number coming out of South Africa and Singapore.

However, the Japanese second hand vehicles are normally in better shape than Zimbabwean second hand vehicles and generally tend to be as good as new.

It is not clear what the Solution and Prime Minister Mini-me are trying to do, but it is certain that this legislation is being proposed not with the interests of the people at heart, but to protect the business interests of certain powerful individuals, including people like Ignatious Chombo, who own new vehicle dealerships in Zimbabwe.

They have been losing business of late.

Since dollarisation started, the prices of second hand vehicles in Zimbabwe has plummeted and cars can be picked up for a thousand or less and generally two thousand US dollars gets you a very good car.

This has seen the car dealerships losing revenue which they were used to getting during the Zimbabwe Dollar days, when corrupt people playing the system would make a killing daily and keep their money in assets such as cars.

There is no need to go after the second hand vehicles import market at all, except to protect special interest.

The horrific number of accidents on our roads have been, in every single instance, been traced to human error or the deplorable state of our potholed roads, which the government has long since stopped even patching up.

Instead of protecting special interests, they should focus on the cause of the accidents and attend to our roads. They should also tighten regulations so that police do not let unroadworthy vehicles loose on our streets. This requires a police force that is well paid and well motivated, which will eschew corruption in favour of enforcing the law.

But the good of the country has never been the focus of this government. Their focus has been always protecting their space at the feeding trough and now they intend to use state machinery to protect the private interests of powerful ministers.

Legislation such as proposed by Mugabe today is only implemented in countries that have car manufacturing industries of their own, in order to give these local industries an upper hand in the local market.

Here in Zimbabwe we have no such industry and car dealers routinely charge ridiculous prices for new and used vehicles. Even a locally registered car is sold with import duties and the like factored into the price by the car dealers. No wonder 90 percent of them are now on the verge of bankruptcy.

Still, you have been warned. This, despite being a so-called Inclusive Government, is still a very dictatorial one. They will push these things through regardless. So you had better run and buy your Japanese vehicles before this legislation is implemented.


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