Tinashe Makichi and Munesu Nyakudya
The Common Market for East and Southern Africa has pointed out lack of chain cohesiveness in Zimbabwe’s cotton sector as a threat to the achievement of objectives set under the Cotton to Clothing export strategy launched last year. COMESA and Zimbabwe signed an agreement for the regional trading bloc to provide a 4,2 million euro grant to boost value addition in the clothing sector but the lack of value chain cohesiveness has been evident within the cotton sector where different players have been working in isolation and sometimes against each other.
Speaking at the handover of equipment by COMESA aimed at supporting Zimbabwe’s regional integration efforts yesterday, executive director COMESA clearing house Mr Mahmoud Mansoor said lack of a united voice in the cotton sector has hindered joint promotional activities across the cotton value chain.
“A lack of chain cohesiveness has been evident in the cotton sector due to different players working in isolation and worse still against each other. This has made it difficult for the sector to come up with a joint policy advocacy programme to lobby the Government to enact sector specific policies and legislations to revamp the sector.
“It has also hindered joint promotional activities across the value chain at national and regional levels,” said Mr Mansoor. He said with the scaling down of most textile and clothing companies, the SMEs sector is becoming a major source of employment for most locals but it lacks skill and access to finance hence the need for capacity development.
Mr Mansoor said Zimbabwe’s leather value chain is also facing challenges at every level of its segment and those problems include production of poor quality raw hides and skins, shortage of working capital, limited production of finished leather and low capacity utilisation levels. He said the major challenge facing Zimbabwe is funding for the capacity building of its institutions and the implementation of its national programmes and this has slowed implementation of COMESA regional integration programmes across all sectors of the economy.
Mr Mansoor said Zimbabwe is yet to submit its schedules of specific commitments in the agreed priority services sectors of transport, communication, finance and tourism. On Zimbabwe’s regional integration efforts, European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe Philippe Van Damme said trade facilitation commitments should be implemented while tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade have to be gradually dismantled in order to make the economy more competitive.
“We acknowledge that Zimbabwe faces a number of challenges that are affecting its commitment from meeting both Bali commitments and its regional commitments in the framework of COMESA. “Inadequate capacities of key national institutions that are supposed to spearhead the domestication and implementation of regional commitments, inadequate domestic resources and inadequate infrastructure to facilitate movement of goods and services across the region are some of the challenges that the country faces,” said Ambassador Van Damme.
He said the EU and other partners including the World Bank are willing to provide the required assistance.