Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE is losing millions of dollars through polyester fabric imports as local producers are no longer producing the material.
This emerged during a tour of Bulawayo clothing firm, Archer Clothing, by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo last Friday.
Archer Clothing factory manager, Mr Thomas Kadiki, said although they were able to meet customers’ requirements locally and internationally, his organisation was facing delays in securing polyester fabric, which was being imported from abroad.
“We are managing to supply all our customers but the only thing which may delay us is the coming in of polyester fabric from the Far East in countries such as China.
“Our cotton is only 10 percent from Kadoma Textile Mills and we need the polyester, which we can’t get locally. Some customers need the polyester and we don’t have polyester manufacturers in the country at the moment,” he said.
“The country is losing millions of dollars from importing polyester as our local millers for now are only able to supply the cotton.
“So you need companies that can actually make polyester fabric while you are exporting the finished products.”
Mr Kadiki said if local textile mills could re-invest in producing polyester that could also go a long way in creating employment.
During the tour, Dr Moyo concurred with Mr Kadiki that investors should tap into the polyester fabric manufacturing sector as the material was not being manufactured in the country.
“So we need companies that can actually make polyester fabric while you (clothing and textile firms) are exporting the finished product,” said the Minister.
In an interview after the tour, Mr Kadiki said they were exporting 50 percent of their products to South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and Germany while the remainder was being supplied to the local market.
Presently, he said, Archer Clothing employs close to 1 000 people with the Bulawayo factory producing close to 8 000 units a day.
“We are targeting to employ 2 000 people and this can only happen if we are operating at full throttle.
“At the moment we are operating at around 65 percent capacity utilisation and some of the machinery is not being utilised because of operational constraints such as power supply challenges and foreign currency shortages,” he said.
“Running a generator is expensive but if we can get a constant supply of electricity then it will improve our operational capacity. At the moment we are operating at around 65 percent capacity utilisation,” Mr Kadiki said.
Meanwhile, Zesa has embarked on a massive load shedding programme that has seen the country going beyond the 10-hour load shedding schedule that was announced by the power utility recently.
Zesa has embarked on power cuts citing strained power generation at one of the country’s major power stations, Kariba Hydro Power Station, due to low water levels at Kariba dam.