Zim plans to set up SMEs selling points in SADC, COMESA
Speaking at a ceremony to send off a delegation of 55 cross border traders (CBTs) to Zambia, Small to Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) Development Minister, Sithembiso Nyoni, said on Tuesday her ministry would work to ensure that CBTs were not harassed or arrested during their visits to neighbouring countries.
“When I went to Zambia with Minister (of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Oppah) Muchinguri, we found 2000 Zimbabwean traders sleeping at bus stops and in crowded rooms and we promised to do something about their plight,” she said.
“The government has given me the mandate to take care of SMEs and to ensure that trading is done properly. From now on you should be known as small scale exporters.”
When it realising the plight of traders, she said, the government had liased with the Zambian government, resulting in Zimbabweans being allocated specific selling points for CBTs in that country.
Nyoni added that the ministry was working on brochures to guide CBTs on trade in Zambia.
She said the agreement struck with Zambia was only the beginning as the ministry wanted to set similar agreements with countries within SADC and COMESA to encourage CBTs to bring in foreign currency.
“The government is in the process of setting up a policy for CBTs to legitimise their operations and anyone working outside the policy will be doing so at their own risk,” she said.
Addressing the same meeting, Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister, Oppah Muchinguri, said the trip by traders to Zambia, was a demonstration of the strong ties that exist between the two countries.
She urged the traders to respect the laws of Zambia following guidelines they had been given in consultations with the central bank, immigration authorities and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), and be exemplary in their conduct.
The Ambassador of Zambia to Zimbabwe, Sheila Siwela, said the trade delegations were welcome in Zambia as long as they abide by the laws of her country.
Head of the delegation, Abigail Magwenzi, said the purpose of the trip was not only to generate funds for themselves, but also to make a contribution towards the turnaround of the country’s economy.
She said that as Zimbabweans, they would be submissive to the policies laid down by the government and would not resort to smuggling goods and foreign currency as the delegation’s mission was founded on Christian principles.
The trip is part of the government’s efforts to promote the informal sector, which constitutes the majority of the working population in Zimbabwe. ‘ New Ziana.