Kudakwashe Mhundwa and Kumbirai Tarusarira Business Reporters
Government has drafted the National Quality Policy (NQP) which seeks to establish a national accreditation body and a market surveillance unit to assess the quality of products produced in local industries, as it moves to ensure that products meet conformity standards of both the local and international markets.
The development comes at a time when Zimbabwe is in the process of ramping up value addition and beneficiation of its products so that the country can benefit from the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) once it becomes operational.
The AfCFTA has the potential to boost intra-African trade by 52,3 percent through the elimination of import duties, and by over 100 percent through the elimination of non-tariff barriers.
Speaking on the side-lines of a local sourcing for partnerships project training and capacity building workshops for SMEs organised by the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and Comesa yesterday, director for quality assurance in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce Angelica Katuruza said while the ministry has been making strides to make sure that they boost local production, it is important to come up with a NQP so that industrialists feed into market demands.
“NQP seeks to fill a gap within our policies in Government. That gap speaks to the production of quality products coming from our industry. You may be aware that as the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and Government at large, we have been putting in place policies to develop the industry, increase production and source locally.
“We have not really put in place a policy that ensures that the quality of product that is coming from our industries meets the relevant standards and this is critical.
“Consumers within the country and the rest of the world are all demanding quality products.
“Because Zimbabwe lives within a village, it is important that our products meet the quality standards.
“The NQP looks at issues such as market surveillance, it will empower us to do market surveillance, to look at products that are on the market to see if they are meeting the relevant standards and those that are substandard should be removed from the market.
“It also looks at trying to set up a local national accreditation body. Currently, laboratories that are in the manufacturing sector are accredited outside the country and they are paying a lot of money.
“Within the NQP, we are looking at (whether) we should set up a lab to make sure all our laboratories get accredited and that they produce the same standard of products wherever they are,” said Ms Katuruza.
Asked about enactment of the bill, Ms Katuruza said her ministry has drafted a zero draft bill and are awaiting formulation of the policy within Government.
“We currently have a zero draft as we speak and we are consulting various stakeholders. Once the consultation are over, the policy will now go through the process of formulation within Government so that it is accepted as a policy,” she said.