The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE Government has approved a Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) policy as part of efforts to create an enabling regulatory environment for emerging enterprises, a Cabinet Minister said.
In an interview with Sunday News Business last week, Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Dr Sithembiso Nyoni said Cabinet approved the second five-year MSME policy which is set to increase industrial growth and productivity on Tuesday last week.
“Cabinet has approved our (MSMEs) policy and strategy. This policy is very comprehensive and it has 12 pillars.
“From now on we are going to roll out these pillars and at the core of these pillars will be provision of work space, infrastructure support and clustering of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises),” she said.
The policy also focuses on entrepreneurship development, business management, corporate governance and technical skills development, access to modern production and information communication technologies (ICT) and rural industrialisation.
Dr Nyoni also said the new policy would look at tackling a number of legal frameworks, which were stifling the growth of SMEs.
“The second one (pillar) will be centred on the legal framework, creating an enabling environment for the SMEs. So, we are going to look at all the legal constraints including the by-laws of local authorities that are constraining the SMEs,” she said.
Said Dr Nyoni: “For instance by-laws of most towns and cities have got what they call vendor by-laws, not SMEs by-laws, which means SMEs were never planned for by local authorities as there are no provisions within their by-laws to that effect. We hope that this will change so that they plan for SMEs.”
She said going forward local authorities are expected to embark on massive infrastructural development aimed at providing SMEs with proper working spaces including warehousing facilities and industrial hubs.
“We want to cluster SMEs according to work spaces because if you take a note most local authorities have vending sites all over the CBD (Central Business District) encouraging people to vend instead of encouraging people to manufacture or being real retailers,” she said.
Dr Nyoni said her ministry was also working on ensuring players in the SMEs sector benefit in reserved sector as prescribed under the reviewed Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.
“We are appealing for the reinforcement of the reviewed Indigenisation Act, which reserves certain sectors such as trading, retailing and transport for locals. Thus, we are now engaging with relevant ministries to reinforce this because most businesses are being taken away from SMEs especially the work spaces,” she said.
The reserved sectors are agriculture (primary production of food and cash crops), transportation, retail and wholesale trade, barbershops, hairdressing and beauty salons, employment and estate agencies and grain milling as well as bakeries, tobacco grading and packaging, tobacco processing, advertising agencies, milk processing and provision of local arts and crafts, marketing and distribution.
Dr Nyoni said most retail outlets in most towns and cities in the country were being run by foreigners at the expense of locals.
“You find that in Harare and Bulawayo’s CBD there are a lot of foreigners that are into these reserved sectors, which are supposed to be a privilege of the locals.
“We expect foreigners to come into the country to invest and not to take up businesses such as trade, which we expect to be a preserve of our women and youth. So, we (Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development) are going to be following up on these enforcements,” she said.
Bulawayo Chamber of SMEs chairman Mr Energy Majazi said the new policy was a welcome development but there was a need for the Government to ensure it was fully implemented to support the SMEs sector.
“We (SMEs) are still to be well-versed with the policy. However, these policies are quite ideal even at a time when there are enacted.
“What has been lacking is the implementation part of it, but of late it seems everything is going according to the policies that were put in place,” he said.
Said Mr Majazi: “We anticipate that whatever we didn’t get in terms of support we are going to get because if the Government is putting in place policies, it is putting them deliberate to benefit SMEs thereby improving our production in all sector thereby so doing we will be contributing immensely to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).”
He further hinted that much has been done to ensure SMEs contribute effectively to the country’s economy.
“We also participate in tax remittances, something that was unusual in the past. If you check now most of the SMEs are formalised.
“We are expecting more to come from these policies and what we only desire now is that the Government stick to them and provide what it’s saying it will provide to SMEs,” said Mr Majazi.
SMEs have a major role in development in the Zimbabwean economy.
“Manufacturing SMEs in particular could play a leading role but they need technical, financial and marketing support if they are to thrive.