Promise to fund: Finance Minister Ncube pacifies restive Harare informal traders

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By Thandiwe Garusa

GOVERNMENT has promised to help informal traders working in the textiles sector who are currently under siege from unscrupulous property owners in down-town Harare.

Finance Minister and his Small to Medium Enterprises counterpart Sithembiso Nyoni made an impromptu visit to Harare’s market stalls from which hundreds of tailors work huddled in corners with little machinery but providing the bulk of the country’s education sector with uniforms.

Ncube, after hearing concerns around funding from the traders, promised funding.

“They need our support like government incentives and providing better space for them, marketing capabilities so that they can get their products out there,” said Ncube adding government would look into the possibility of building factory shells for the informal traders.

The traders told the Cabinet Ministers that they have since been ordered to vacate the premises owned by businesspeople of Asian descent within a matter of days and now have nowhere to go.

Under his austerity measures, Ncube last October introduced a 2% transactional tax that was mainly aimed at tapping into Zimbabwe’s massive informal sector as formal industry continues to shrink with each passing day.

Sithembiso Nyoni said the informal sector could be used as an engine for economic growth in Zimbabwe.

“We can plan for small to medium enterprises like these that are making good products and capable of really changing the fortunes of this economy,” Nyoni said.

A business coordinator who spoke on behalf of the traders Lloyd Bahera said mobile money transaction charges have been eating into the traders’ profits presenting challenges for their business and potential for growth.

“They buy their materials using cash whilst they are selling their products with mobile money platforms and this means that all their profits are exhausted with high charges,” said Bahera.

According to Bahera, the current crippling power shortages have also presented social problems as the informal traders mostly women have had to shift timetables to suit the situation.

“Power-cuts is also another challenge as these entrepreneurs now work overnight and it is affecting their marriages,” he said, adding imported and smuggled second hand clothing have also invaded their market.

Zimbabwe is facing its worst power crisis forcing industrialists and informal traders to work at night.