By Staff Reporter
SMALL to Medium Enterprises minister Sithembiso Nyoni says only 6 % Zimbabweans were currently unemployed, contradicting wide claims that the country’s unemployment rate was hovering above 90%.
Faced with an economic collapse, few economic options and a bleak future since the turn of the millennium, a lot of Zimbabweans left the country in search of employment opportunities.
A giant population that was still brave to remain within the country’s borders is now into self-help activities, most of it being informal.
These have been deemed unemployed as much of their activities, although sometimes rewarding, have been chaotic, largely unregulated, ununionised and without any structure that feeds into the national employment system.
However, Nyoni thinks otherwise as she argues that Zimbabweans were creating their own employment.
“People in Zimbabwe are resilient and take initiatives at creating jobs for themselves to an extent that even the international institutions have agreed SMEs in the economic sector are contributing to job creation,” Nyoni said Tuesday while commissioning a grocery store in Redcliff suburb, about 25 km outside Kwekwe.
Speaking of the international institutions, she added, “but now they (international institutions) have agreed that Zimbabwe only has 5,7% unemployment as most people employ themselves contrary to reports that 80% are unemployed.”
She added that a bleak picture of Zimbabwe’s unemployment status was being painted.
“Most of our people employ themselves and most of our people create jobs but they are invisible, they are not known. It is our role as government to make them known and visible,” she said.
In addition, SMEs, according to Nyoni are estimated to contribute over 60% employment to the Gross Domestic Product.
“Furthermore, the absorption of the majority of our women and youths in this sector, either as enterprise owners or employees was ignited by the dynamism required to steer the development of our nation,” she said.
Nyoni however said the sector was hamstrung by teething challenges despite growth prospects.
“While it is encouraging to note that the sector is growing, they still face challenges.
“These include technology, markets, workspaces.
“Our government recognises these challenges, and something is being done to that effect,” she said.
“…The youth empowerment is critical as it marks a transition from being economically dependent to being productive and economically self-reliant.”