CZI President, Sifelani Jabangwe

Shipping company threatens to halt release of containers to Zimbabwean importers

By Wallace Mawire

 

CZI President, Sifelani Jabangwe
CZI President, Sifelani Jabangwe

Mediterranean Sipping Company S.A. (Zimbabwe) (Pvt) Ltd has written to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) through a notice of intent for suspension of support for Zimbabwe inbound cargo.

According to a letter addressed to CZI President, Sifelani Jabangwe and copied to the Governor of the Reserve Bank and written by Giorgio Spampinato, Managing Director of Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. the company has said that it is contemplating the possibility of halting the release of containers to Zimbabwean importers who have not paid for the company’s services at origin as well as discouraging the acceptance of cargo destined for Zimbabwe aboard its ships worldwide.

“Our decision would be necessitated by the fact that despite numerous engagements with various offices at various levels, our efforts of settling amounts due to our head office  have been in vain and we remain unable to remit the long outstanding remittable funds for services already rendered to players in your industry,”Spampinato said.

He also lamented that their facilitation of trade through sea freight transportation of imports and exports have resulted in the accumulation of unremitted funds amounting to $9 103 111 due to their principals in Geneva.

MSC Zimbabwe is a wholly owned subsidiary of MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland (MSC Global).It is the world’s second largest container shipping line, owning over 500 vessels (ships), operating through 480 offices across 155 countries and with a staff compliment of over 70 000 employees.

“We are your trade link to the rest of the world and in layman terms one cannot talk of trade without giving any regard/esteem to the role that a shipping line plays within the trade chain.In landlocked countries like ourselves, shipping lines have often been mistaken for the intermediary freight forwarding company and/or a clearing agent yet what the country has in the presence of a global multinational company (the ship owner, the container owner) directly supporting trade through the movement of exports/imports via the seas,”Spampinato told CZI.

He added that in their bid to support economic growth, development of the local economy as well as avert shortages of key commodities in Zimbabwe and by extension, the availability of equipment to support the country’s exports, MSC Zimbabwe as agents of MSC Global have been collecting freight charges locally on behalf of MSC Global under the expectation and assurances that they receive support to remit that sea freight portion in its totality to the owners.He says that this has not happened.

He also added that their existence in Zimbabwe has been very instrumental in reducing forex leakages by internalising certain costs associated with transport of commodities and they have also given leeway to importers to ensure that shortages of priority commodities such as agriculture inputs,mining equipment and food commodities are minimised but at MSC’s cost of failing to remit sea freight to its principals when it is needed.

“Point to note is that the control of the freight component in the cost and freight price of goods has been to the advantage of the buyer, in this case, the Zimbabwean buyer, whom, in addition to us accepting their freight payment locally have been enjoying a further extension of approximately 90 to 120 days credit line from ourselves thus allowing them additional time to source payments required upfront from suppliers of their commodities. The economic operator’s capacity to deliver to a client’s premises the right quantity of goods commands a better price than the bulk movement of cargo, thanks to our existence in Zimbabwe,” he added.

Spampinato added that with the continued failure by the central bank to live up to their commitments, no alternative remains other than discouraging cargo destined to Zimbabwe to load on their ships or accepting cargo subject to full payment in advance payable direct to their principals.

He said that the impact of this will be a reduction in inflows and by extension, outflows equating to 125 000 tons of goods.

Spampinato also said that they were counting on the assistance and cooperation of the CZI having assessed internally the impact that the mentioned actions might have on CZI members, to  escalate the notice of intent to the relevant authorities before they are forced to take further measures that will affect members of the CZI and drastically impact on trade in Zimbabwe.

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