PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has said his government ‘s major focal area is the informal sector and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), as Zimbabwe joins the world to celebrate International Workers’ Day on Friday.
In his Workers Day speech to the nation, Mnangagwa acknowledged the immense contribution made by these sectors in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“These sub-sectors have sustained the greater number of national livelihoods as our nation battles myriad adversities, whether natural or man-made. This means our programmes aimed at defending and sustaining worker welfare must put these two sub-sectors at the heart of our policies,” he said.
He said government has decided to include special, well-tailored packages for SMEs and the informal sector in its overall Post-Covid-19 Stimulus Recovery Measures to be announced in the immediate future.
Turning to the current invisible enemy -COVID 19, he said it was a rude awakening which saw government swimming in uncharted waters.
This, he said, triggered government to reorganise SMEs and informal markets so that both were compliant with public health needs.
Ironically, the COVID 19 induced national lockdown largely affected these sectors as it hamstrung income.
Harare City Council exacerbated the woes by demolishing the informal workers’ work stations.
Mnangagwa said his administration was committed to give workers living wages, but this has been hampered by a cocktail of factors including perennial droughts, sanctions and recently the Coronavirus pandemic that has literally crippled the global economy.
“Government has continued to adjust your earnings, with a view to making them living wages. Yet the goal of taming inflation, and the general cost of living, has largely remained elusive, an ungraspable mirage. Elusive, because of the successive droughts which continue to visit us, making our nation a net importer of food,” he said.
Meanwhile, this year there will be no gatherings to celebrate Workers Day owing to the COVID 19 pandemic.
Traditionally, workers gathered at Rufaro Stadium where labour movements and trade unionists addressed them.