Zimbabwe has in the first 10 months of this year spent at least US$1.4 billion on cars and luxury imports, forcing the government through treasury to effect duty payments in forex as part of measures to curb the widening trade deficit.
Zimbabwe’s import bill for January to October averaged US$6 billion with US$1.4 billion taken up by luxurious imports.
Zimbabwe’s imported grapes have gobbled US$1.2 million to date, chocolates and juices US$2 million per month translating to US$20 million to date.
Toiletries are taking US$450 000 per month giving a figure of US$4.5million to date while fresh produce alone is accounting for an estimated US$150 000 per month, thus US$1.5 million from January to October.
But the biggest shocker is attributed to cars where the country imported nearly 90 000 luxurious cars worth a whooping US$600 million since the beginning of the year.
This is just a sample extract of how Zimbabweans love everything foreign.
It is within the realisation that the impact arising from luxurious imports is coming at a huge cost to the economy, hindering prospects for job creation, savings and local production that eventually saw treasury effecting duty payment in forex on selected luxurious products.
World statistics on vehicle per capita, which is the number of road motor vehicles per every 1000 people, does not tally with the economic realities on the ground.
Zimbabwe is at 114 which is higher than other strong economies such as Kenya that is pegged at 24 and Egypt which stands at 51 vehicles per 1000 people.
The car import shocker has put a huge strain on foreign currency where the government now has to double its allocations for fuel imports monthly which are now pegged at an estimated US$100 million per month.
The effect is clearly evident if the number of car sales ‘littering’ the capital city is anything to read from.
One wonders how many of the estimated 90 000 vehicles that were imported are still dumped in the cars sales placing the nation as a dump site of pre-owned and environmentally unfriendly vehicles.
It is a nation hurting itself as the huge import bill could be channelled towards reviving local industries.