Government bans importing “very old” Ex-Jap cars

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We are now used to hearing some outrageous policies every time Mthuli Ncube presents a budget, this time was no exception. Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube dropped a bombshell regarding car imports during his presentation of 2021 Budget Statement.

The Finance Minister dashed hopes of prospective owners by announcing that government will ban the importation of cars which were manufactured over 10 years ago. Any car that is aged 10 years and above will not be allowed to enter Zimbabwe when this policy is implemented.

Cars such as Honda Fit,Toyota Wish, Toyota Bubble and more which are currently roaming the streets will not be eligible for importation in Zimbabwe under the policy.

Mr Speaker Sir, about US$1.3 billion was spent on imported buses, light commercial and passenger motor vehicles from 2015 to September 2020. This is despite the existence of capacity by the local motor industry to assemble the above-mentioned range of motor vehicles. Furthermore, due to lack of effective standards and regulation, road unworthy vehicles, which, in some instances fail to meet environmental and safety standards, find their way onto the market. In line with the NDS1, which underscores value addition, I propose to remove second hand motor vehicles aged 10 years and above, from the date of manufacture at the time of importation, from the Open General Import Licence. In the interim, commercial vehicles such as tractors, haulage trucks, earth-moving equipment and other specialised vehicles used in mining and construction will be exempt from this requirement.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube during 2021 Budget Statement Presentation

The idea for such a shocking policy was conceived after government noticed “road unworthy vehicles,which, in some instances fail to meet environmental and safety standards, find their way onto the market.” Besides environmental concerns, government found strength to ban those “very old cars” to encourage people to purchase locally-assembled cars and reduce the import bill.

Mthuli Ncube says there’s “capacity by the local industry to assemble” cars which are being imported but he falls short of giving the reason why locally-assembled cars are being ditched – price. It all comes down to affordability. Cars being assembled in Zimbabwe right now are new, making it expensive for many people to afford them. Whereas Ex-Japs have lower prices as they are second hand.

If local manufacturers match their prices with Ex-Japs,which is unlikely, then people will be prepared to buy local cars. The likely scenario to follow is that people will continue buying Ex-Japs but only Ex-Japs which were not manufactured over 10 years ago.

Unless Mthuli Ncube ban Ex-Japs in their totality, there’s no way people are going to buy expensive new cars from Willowvale than buying cheap and old second hand cars from Tokyo.

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