Between 2000 and 2010, Zimbabwe’s textile and garment production went through a rough stretch the led to closure of companies and subsequent job losses. Cheap imports flooded the market crippling the once flourishing sector as it could no longer compete.
The scenario has started changing. The sector is awakening and becoming one of the most promising in the country, if what is happening at Chitungwiza south of Harare is anything to go by. Here, a garment and textile cluster is in full steam churning out clothing that finds their way to shelves of upmarket fashion houses in the region and learning institutions.
In 2018, the Chitungwiza Textiles Cluster only produced clothing for Edgars Fashion outlet in Zimbabwe, where it got a minimal amount of $4000 per production order. The Cluster has since expanded to schools in the manufacture of uniforms, jerseys and track suits. In January 2020, the cluster got a lucky break with numerous orders for productions. Among them, over 3,000 track suits for various high schools in and outside Harare and these were delivered in late February 2020.
The Cluster also produced and supplied finished clothes to various clothing outlets in the country worth over USD 25,000. It is now projecting to increase the supply to over USD 500,000. Presently, the Cluster is producing over 200 garments in a day with a cash flow sufficient to manage its expenses without support from the project finance.
The revival of the facility came though the COMESA Adjustment Facility (CAF), Regional Integration Support Mechanism (RISM) which is funded by the European Union. In the first phase of the funds disbursement, Zimbabwe got €4.2 million through a Grant Agreement signed in September 2014 between the Government and COMESA.
To ensure sustainability and quality products, COMESA plans to introduce exchange programmes for clusters in Zimbabwe and the region to share experiences and good practices. This will encompass all the production value chains.
During a visit to the Cluster on 28th February 2020, a COMESA team led by Ms. Hope Situmbeko, the RISM Coordinator, it was noted that governance structures at the Cluster required strengthening to support this rapidly growing business.
“The Cluster should develop a management and governance- system that ensure that audits are clean, for example, by use of a corporative audit system,” Ms Situmbeko said. “This includes the establishment of structures that allow for a cross section of people to be part of the management team including the youth, women and men with various management and technical skills.”
To showcase some of the outcomes of the project implementation in Zimbabwe, the Project Implementation Unit based at the COMESA Clearing House in Harare, is planning to host an Indaba (expo) which shall bring together all the stakeholders that have been supported under the COMESA Adjustment Facility CAF/RISM funding.