With the COVID-19 pandemic hurting the economy, continued instability in the east and a political tug-of-war at the heart of government, the young administration of Félix Tshisekedi is trying to impose its will, seeking allies at home and abroad.
Zimbabwe ventures into car manufacturing sector
Zimbabwean authorities say, with this deal, they would soon be able to export cars to other African countries.
The southern African country only has a car assembly plant – Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries (WMMI) – which stopped assembling vehicles in 2012, when production plunged to below 4 000 from a peak of 18 000 vehicles per year in 1997.
But Zimbabwe is optimistic of better fortunes, with the coming on board of El Badaoui Group.
Industry and Commerce minister, Mike Bimha this week said the deal will assist in the rejuvenation of the manufacturing sector, as well as expand the range of exports.
“One of the areas of co-operation with El Badaoui’s company is the establishment of an entity to spearhead the design and manufacture of a Zimbabwean-made car with potential for export to Africa,” he said.
With Zimbabwe manufacturing its own car, authorities hope government will procure its fleet locally, which sounds unlikely, as bureaucrats have always had an appetite for Mercedes Benz vehicles despite Madza being assembled locally.
The government routinely spends millions importing top of the range cars for officials, which is at variance with cabinet directives requiring state institutions to buy from domestic manufacturers.
Bizarrely, on its website, the El Badaoui Group is listed as an international public relations firm, which specialises in “creation and promotion of innovative brands, including their own brands, specialising in Luxury products, original and without competitors” raising eyebrows on the car deal it signed with Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s automotive sector comprises four motor vehicle assemblers—Willowvale, Quest Motors, Deven Engineering and AVM Africa Limited.
There is also a cluster of companies that have developed international franchise arrangements with global brands such as Toyota, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Volkswagen, Chevrolet, Ford, Isuzu, Audi, Mitsubishi, Audi and Volvo.
Uganda is another African country that has come up with its own vehicle model, although it is not is not manufactured commercially.