The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) has welcomed the government’s extension of business operating hours from 1500 hours to 1630 hours under level 2 lockdown, whose curfew has also been cut short by two hours.
Last month, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a night curfew from 6pm to 6am for and directed that businesses operate from 8am to 3pm as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“Having noted the plight of the public and the need to lessen the risk of contracting Covid-19, Cabinet directed that the business hours which were ending at 3pm be revisited to end at 4.30pm and the curfew to be extended to 8pm,” said Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, during a post cabinet briefing Tuesday.
ZNCC vice president responsible for Matabeleland, Golden Muoni, said while they welcomed the adjustment in business hours, there was nothing much to celebrate considering damage has already been done on the economy.
“Of course, our time has just changed from 3pm to 4:30pm,” he told CITE.
“I think it is good for business and for production time. Obviously people were no longer able to work because of limited hours. The lesser the hours we have the lesser the chances of us achieving what we want to achieve at the end of the day.”
He however said it would take time for the business environment to normalise.
“There is nothing obviously to celebrate because the damage has already been done,” said Muoni.
“Already we have many problems which are with us. You talk of El Nino and its effects; we have got drought with us, which is also an El Nino-induced drought. We have the Covid-19 also.”
He added: “The impact which is caused by these things is so enormous that we have got a toll order to change the economic direction. We need to work as hard as possible.”
He said the government should soon avail the ZWL$18 billion stimulus package promised to industry.
“There was a promise that we were going to get about ZWL$18 billion, which we haven’t seen the colour of it,” he bemoaned.
“We expect this stimulus to also come to support the businesses which have been hard-hit by the Covid-19.”
He said the small to medium enterprises should be prioritised, adding they were key drivers of economic activities in the country.