SOUTH Africa and northern neighbour Zimbabwe recently met in Pretoria and engaged on how to include the small and medium size traders into the mainstream of the two countries’ economy, region and Africa.
The meeting was attended by the South African government officials and Zimbabwean counterparts, civil society, informal traders and members of the diplomatic corps.
The Zimbabwean economy is 94.5 percent informal while South Africa acknowledged the sector’s significant contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
South African Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu said they want the informal traders to grow and become big businesses with government’s support.
She said, “Life is engaging in dialogue trying to find solutions faced by human beings. We want our regional economic trade to grow and intra Africa trade.
“Informal traders are making massive contributions to the GDP and well-being of families they provide alternative source of livelihood.”
Zulu said the informal traders faced challenges like the failure to access funding and delays at border posts.
Informal traders require training in financial management, health management and business accounting.
Zulu said some cross-border traders face unfair impounding of their goods. She said while bilateral agreements exist between many African countries, there is none that focus on small businesses.
The South African Minister said some monopoly big companies are driving the small companies out of business through unfair practices and said government must protect them. She also encouraged citizens to buy local to support small businesses.
Zimbabwean Ambassador to South Africa Isaac Moyo said most African small businesses have similar challenges which needs a region and a continent to address it.
He said the Zimbabwean government is committed to working with other countries to uplift the small traders and make their operations better.
Moyo said there is acceptance at continental level that small businesses should be on the agenda.
Ambassador Moyo said his government is serious about the sector which is evident by the creation of the Ministry responsible for that.
South Africa has been engaging Zimbabwe for some time and will soon be meeting other neighbouring countries.Advertisement
Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA) secretary general Wisborn Malaya said governments should consult small traders before making policies.
He criticized the Zimbabwean government by imposing the law which prohibits the importation of certain goods outside the country.
The law was passed last year by the Zimbabwean government to protect their local industries.