Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) made an oral presentation to the Gender and Development Committee of the Parliament of Zimbabwe on the impact of Covid-19 on the Small and Medium Sector (SMEs), analysis of government interventions, and a possible way forward.
VISET, as represented by its Executive Director Mr. Samuel Wadzai said that women and children were severely affected by the lockdown as evidence by the increase in domestic violence cases along with school dropouts on the part of children of school-going age, with Manicaland province recording 415 girls who were meant to sit for exams dropping out due to pregnancy or early marriage. The VISET delegation also included Ms. Rosemary Mudzamiri, VISET Deputy Board Chairperson, and Ms. Tariro Munyereyi, VISET Programs Manager.
VISET also informed the Committee that the greatest hindrance affecting the SME sector in Zimbabwe is the lack of funding. There was a need for purposeful initiatives that target this sector at the government policy level. Whilst the creation of the Women's Bank was a step in the right direction, it was felt this did not remove the impediments in the way of members.
VISET proposed the creation of a Micro Financing Unit that is set up under the Ministry that offers bridging finance, revolving loans, and funds working capital needs.
VISET also spoke on the problems that were associated with the disbursement of the cushioning funds for the Informal Sector and said that regrettably, the process was fraught with corruption, with reports that politicians and high ranking civil servants made up the list of beneficiaries in Kwekwe province for example. Whilst the initiative was noble, it was woefully lacking in transparency and accountability as to date, no records have been released regards disbursement.
In conclusion, it was VISET's contention that more needed to be done in channeling assistance to the sector, as well as specific gender-targeted interventions that cater to the women in the Informal Sector.
Source: Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET)