Lockdown: Govt to cushion SMEs

The government has pledged to unveil grants to the informal sector and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) whose businesses have been affected by the 21-day nationwide lockdown.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa last Friday declared a three-week national lockdown to contain the deadly pandemic which has so far infected eight people in the country and claimed one life.

Several countries across the globe including Kenya, Rwanda and neighbouring South Africa are already in shutdowns with the whole world battling to halt the further spreading of  COVID-19, which has infected thousands and claimed many lives globally.

During Zimbabwe’s 21-day curfew which expires on April 19, businesses save for retail outlets selling foodstuffs, pharmacies and others offering critical services will remain open.

In a notice, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and Small to Medium Enterprises stated that members in the informal sector will be compensated for the incomes lost and a database for beneficiaries will be compiled.

“In view of the outbreak of COVID-19 and the current shutdown, the government is working on coming up with support schemes for those members who are engaged in the SMEs and Informal sectors who will lose their incomes,” read the statement.

“The Ministry is working with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to compile a database of those that should be considered to benefit under the scheme.”

In an interview, the Minister of Women Affairs, Community and Small to Medium Enterprises Sithembiso Nyoni said the scheme will be extended after the lockdown as it is not meant to be a short term program.

“This is not just a short term thing, yes, for now, it might be looking like something that is meant to last during lockdown only but even after we are working on ways on how we can further cushion SMEs and informal sectors,” said Hon Nyoni.

She added that beneficiaries need to register with associations for them to be considered.

“We need SMEs and informal sectors registered to their Associations so that they can benefit from the funds,” she said.

Nyoni also revealed that she does not know the amount budgeted for the programme.  

“As for the budget it is only known by the Ministry of Public Services and Ministry of Finance, they legitimate SMEs and Informal sectors,” she said.

Members within the SME and Informal Sector are required to work with provincial officers in the Ministry to submit their details for consideration.

“Members are therefore being advised to work with Provincial Officers to avail this information, the information should include Name, Sex, Address, Ward/Area and Cell Number.”

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