Thupeyo Muleya in Beitbridge
SEVERAL car dealerships on the South African side of the border at Beitbridge have started closing shop or relocating to either Mozambique or Botswana due to low business.
It has emerged that things took a negative turn when most people started using other ports of entry to ship pre-owned vehicles via Mozambique or Tanzania. Sources in South Africa said more than 15 dealerships had folded while others were contemplating to move to other countries.
The pre-owned vehicles are shipped in mainly via South Africa from Singapore, Japan and the United Kingdom and the customs clearance process is handled at Malindi and Manica transit sheds in Beitbridge.
A sales manager at one of the biggest dealerships, Wright Cars, Mr Clemence Mabidi, said while they used to sell over 40 vehicles daily, they were now selling less than 20 weekly.
“Business is low my brother, some dealers have closed shop and moved to Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Mozambique,” he said.
“Where we used to sell 40 cars daily we now recording 10 vehicle sales. Though we have tried to run special offers, the situation is not improving.
“According to the few clients who still come, the payment of import duty in foreign currency is affecting their buying power. In addition, the car dealers are seeking new opportunities in other countries”.
Mr Mabidi said most people were now importing private cars, which consumed less fuel as a result of the ongoing fuel crisis in the country.
He said though some people were losing jobs at the car dealerships, some have stared relocating with their employers. Another car dealer said they had to reduce car prices to clear stocks.
“We have to reduce prices otherwise the business will fold,” said a salesman at one of the dealerships.
Major car dealers at the South African border include Quest Royal, Wright Cars, Car Cade, Murree Motors, Noble Motors, Autonet, Jakes Auto and KDG.
An importer needs at least US$5 000 and US$15 000 to import a vehicle with a small and bigger engine respectively. The amount is inclusive of buying and import duty. The duty is calculated at 96 percent of the buying price.
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority’s (Zimra) acting head corporate communications, Mrs Inzwirashe Chenai Muwonwa, said recently between 1 January and 30 April this year, they recorded 7 092 vehicle imports and collected $25 102 896.34 in revenue.
She said last year they handled 11 058 entries during the same period under review and received a total revenue of $33 821 838.94.