SMALL to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and informal sector operators in need of financial assistance have been urged to make submissions to their parent ministry’s provincial offices.
This comes as the government has imposed a 21-day lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19), which has resulted in the temporary closure of formal and informal businesses.
In a statement, the ministry said in efforts to minimise the impact of the lockdown, the government has come up with an intervention to assist people engaged in the SME and informal sector.
“In view of the global outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent national lockdown to minimise the spread of the disease, government is considering a number of interventions to minimise its impact.
“One of the interventions is to assist people engaged in the SME and informal sector through providing assistance to cushion against loss of income for subsistence,” read the statement.
According to the IMF, the informal sector in Zimbabwe is a major player in the economy as it contributes an estimated 48 percent of the Gross Domestic product (GDP) and an estimated 42 percent of the total national employment.
“The ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development is therefore requesting SME and informal sector associations to compile lists of members for submission to the ministry’s provincial offices.
“The information should include name, sex, ID number, address, ward or area and cell number,” further reads the statement.
Meanwhile, the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (Viset) has called on the government to act on the price increases which followed the announcement of the 21-day lockdown.
“The majority of informal traders generally live from hand to mouth. This means that the lockdown has actually worsened their livelihoods already jeopardised by a number of factors. To that end, unjustified price hikes mean that informal traders have to face twin evils at once, that is poverty induced by reduced buying power and the ravaging Covid-19.
“Skyrocketing food prices can have a devastating effect on the physical, mental, social and psychological state of poor informal sector players,” Viset executive director Samuel Wadzai said.
Wadzai further called upon the captains of industry to intervene and bring to book those who are wantonly hiking the prices of basic commodities.
“Therefore, our position as an organization is that prices of basic commodities must fall to ensure that citizens abide by the dictates of the lockdown, otherwise at this rate our members will be left with no option but to disobey the directives coming from the government and all its agencies.
“This is the time to be united as Zimbabweans and ensure that we fight Covid-19 from a united standpoint,” he said.