Zimbabwe industries feel pinch of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions

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HARARE, March 19, 2020 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses the launching ceremony for the country's preparedness and response plan against COVID-19, in Harare, Zimbabwe, March 19, 2020. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday thanked China and other countries for the support they have rendered to Zimbabwe as it steps up its preparedness to combat coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Shaun Jusa/Xinhua)
HARARE, March 19, 2020 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses the launching ceremony for the country's preparedness and response plan against COVID-19, in Harare, Zimbabwe, March 19, 2020. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday thanked China and other countries for the support they have rendered to Zimbabwe as it steps up its preparedness to combat coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Shaun Jusa/Xinhua)
Spining

A Zimbabwe government report on the impact of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions has said that industrial capacity utilization has been badly affected with demand at its lowest in five years.

Industrial capacity utilization is at around 33 percent due to short working hours and disruptions to employees accessing work stations, the report said.

Zimbabwe introduced lockdown restrictions on March 30 to limit the spread of COVID-19 BUT has eased them partially even though infections and deaths continue to rise.

As of Aug. 23, the country had reported 5,930 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 155 related deaths.

According to The Herald newspaper on Monday, other challenges noted include foreign currency shortages for the importation of raw materials and spare parts, delays at the borders in clearing both imports and exports, and depressed demand.

The government report provides an overview of the state of industry, focusing on major companies in the country’s 10 provinces.

The most affected sectors include motor industry, printing and packaging, fertilizer, retail, dairy, baking, and textile and clothing.

“Generally, the major challenges being faced by all companies are to do with reduced demand as disposable incomes are low.

“Closed borders have affected imports and exports. Lockdown restrictions including the curfew are affecting the companies in terms of operating hours, which consequently affect the level of industrial production,” the report said.

In the printing and packaging sector, there was reduction in employment as casual and contract workers were laid off.

Most of the initiatives that had been undertaken on exports also halted as the external markets are also locked down.

In the fertilizer industry, demand has been low as farmers are not travelling due to restrictions.

One major fertilizer company, Sable Chemicals, produced only 9 percent of its output target.

However, there was high demand for products such as aluminium sulphate as the demand for clean water firmed.
The baking industry has been operating at between 35 and 40 percent of its potential while the informal market, which accounts for 74 percent of bread sales, has also been affected.

The dairy industry had overall capacity utilization of 34 percent in July 2020 and experienced a 4 percent decrease in employment.

The motor industry has remained subdued during the lockdown, and sales volumes for completely built units were down 70 percent compared to the same period last year.

Bus-maker AVM Africa had a 90 percent reduction in production due to closure of markets for buses such as schools, intercity and rural buses, while government-owned Willowvale Motor Industries has not had any production of new vehicles since the lockdown began.

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