By Alois Vinga
THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) has urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa to intervene and save businesses in the wake of tough Covid-19 lockdown measures on companies.
In an update Thursday, CZR president Denford Mutashu bemoaned that local businesses and the general public bore the brunt of the pandemic in an environment where domestic resources were competing largely with greater support towards the fight against Covid-19.
He said businesses were struggling to fight Covid-19 amidst an internal fight for its own survival where operating hours have been reduced to between 8am and 3pm while a curfew was imposed to run from 6pm to 6am every day.
“Movement of goods and services is also currently slow due to roadblocks and business has to comply.
“As CZR, we are proposing the extension of business hours from 8am to 16:30 hours while curfew hours be extended from 20:00 hours to 5am as this will go a long way towards injecting life in the already struggling businesses,” said Mutashu.
He said it was imperative to ensure both citizens and the economy did not die instead as the country leans more towards enforcing lockdown measures.
Mutashu said stakeholder engagement remained key to coming up with lockdown modalities.
The retailers’ group leader expressed concern that despite the tough lockdown measures, local authorities have increased shop licence and tollgate fees saying the factors, combined with non-fixed costs, were piling misery on business.
“We therefore call upon President Mnangagwa to intervene and save businesses from collapsing.
“The plight of business has been exacerbated by landlords who have continued to demand rentals during these successive lockdowns while others have even increased by more than 30% to closed businesses,” said Mutashu.
CZR reported that businesses were incurring losses of revenue in the region of over 30 percent, thereby limiting the capacity to pull resources towards the Covid-19 fight.
He added that the retailers’ group was ready to appraise the government and the ruling party on what was happening on the economic landscape.