The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) has said there is no business entity within the country which can be considered non-essential, arguing the economy operates as an ecosystem.
The remarks by the business lobby association comes at a time when the government has ordered some businesses considered ‘non-essential’ to shut down as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 during the lockdown.
Speaking to CITE this week, ZNCC national vice president, Golden Muoni, said all corporates were essential because they are interdependent.
“The economy is an ecosystem in which there is interdependence,” said Muoni.
He said there was no justification at all to classification as “essential” and “non-essential”.
“If you tell me that this company is not important, and you give me a reason why you say it is not important, I will give you an example of a small garage which is fixing land cruisers for hospitals, those ambulances,” he said.
“They only specialise in land cruisers, ambulances and all that. That person, can you call him non-essential? But that person is not in the matrix, they are not in the Statutory Instrument, they are not captured. How do you justify that? To me every business, small, medium, big and large corporations are all essential because they are part of the ecosystem.”
He further explained: “They are interdependent on one another because if Mr X is fixing a truck but is under non-essential, if I have a breakdown, how can that person fix my vehicle when he is under non-essential. Does it mean, I have to provide a letter to that person or what?”
He said ZNCC has since been engaging authorities to reconsider their classification of businesses.
“We have been engaging even the police at a local level here (Bulawayo) and even at national level and the Ministry (Industry and Commerce).” He said.
“We have been talking to them trying to clarify. The mistake which happens is that policies are pronounced without business consultations. We want to give them information and that information will assist them to make the right decisions of classifying each and every business according to sectors.”
Muoni decried: “What normally happens is that you wake up in the morning with a new pronouncement and because of social media, you just see a message on your phone that says there is now Statutory Instrument number so and so, which talks about this and that and you are unprepared.”
He said all businesses whether essential or non-essential need to survive, adding if ‘non-essential businesses were ordered to shut there should be a means of helping them not to fold at the end of the day.
“What I am saying is that there is no business which can be classified as non-essential, but we are saying every business will depend on the other,” he said.
“If there are those who are ‘not essential’, let’s come up with a mechanism of assisting those businesses. For example in the US and South Africa, they came up with stimulus packages where businesses were given money and this money is for their survival after the pandemic and now we are saying if there is nothing like that then how are they going to pay salaries for their employees, how are they going to pay their bills and all that?”
He added that there must be a mechanism of taking care of the challenges of all business entities from day one until the lockdown is over.