In the Techzim WhatsApp groups almost on a daily basis someone asks where they can buy the cheapest cellphones or tablets. My usual response to this is AliExpress, where I’ve written numerous posts on how someone can go about it. There are a few minor setbacks with buying using this model though: your package takes between 6-8 weeks to get here and after that depending on the price of your goods (if over US$10) then you have the tax-man to deal with.
A number of people whom I’ve referred have come back running with their tails between their legs asking what they should do, sadly when it’s in the hands of ZIMRA the best you can ask is that they use a lower tariff for which they calculate duty.
Techzim has previously posted some work-arounds of how to go about buying from the American platform but of late there is another method that I’ve been using that I’d encourage anyone to make use of if they want to get genuine products at a cheaper price and you’re willing to make about a week or so.
- Ask friends and family whether they have someone in USA (or even UK) who is coming to Zimbabwe any time soon. You’ll need about a 1-2 week buffer, so be always in the know of who is travelling in and out the country.
- Sign up to Amazon (if you haven’t already) and be sure to register for Amazon Prime – you can have a 30 day trial if you sign up using this link. I’d suggest you signing up for the 30 day trial once you’re ready to shop. You just need to be an Amazon Prime subscriber for quicker delivery of your goods, though there are a number of benefits which I hope to get into in another post.
- Shop for the goods you want, like you would any other eCommerce platform.
- Set the delivery address for the goods to be the person in USA who will be coming to Zimbabwe and have the goods shipped to his/her house.
- Pay for the goods on checking out using your bank’s Visa or Master Card (we’ve used the Ecocash VCN successfully a number of times, though it’s now limited to a maximum of $200/month)
- The goods are then shipped and delivered in between 24 hrs (if you subscribed to Prime) and 72 hours.
- The person travelling to Zimbabwe makes receipt of goods, after which they then pack it together with their stuff. As a traveller, they have a rebate of $200 for ‘new goods’ (I presume they classify new goods as those that are boxed) while they do not stress (at least when I’ve travelled) about ‘used goods’. So they can take the goods out of the packaging and “start using it” so that they enter duty-free. (My legal disclaimer: DO NOT DO ANYTHING ILLEGAL, OR TRY TO SMUGGLE IN GOODS 😉 )
- You then meet up with the person at the airport – less hassles, no stories, but mainly if there is any duty that needs to be paid you’re on standby with your bond notes or local ZimSwitch bank card to make payment.
This has worked for me a number of times and thus far has proved to be successful. The chances are high, with the amount of people who have left Zimbabwe, that you know someone who is in America and frequents back to Zimbabwe.