GWERU – Formalising small to medium businesses is not an attractive option for prospective entrepreneurs because of the bureaucracy and corruption that haunts anybody who does that, Small to Medium Enterprises Development Minister, Sithembiso Nyoni has been told.
The minister heard this while on a meet-the-minister programme with small and medium business owners from the Midlands province in Gweru last week.
Allegations of corruption and parasitic revenue collection tactics were levelled against the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), National Social Security Authority (NSSA), National Employment Council (NEC) and Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (ZIMDEF).
Zimra is generally considered the most corrupt institution among the pack, with the country's borders being havens of shady dealings by officials.
Small and medium business owners raised issues about what they called government institutions' habit of preying on SMEs.
Nyasha Moyo, who is into small scale agriculture, complained that formalising one's business comes with no incentive as government systems makes it very expensive and financially burdensome.
"It seems formalisation of a business has become a crime because the moment you register your business you will be exposed to many revenue collectors," said Moyo.
Other participants also complained of high levels of corruption by town councils in the allocation of land.
Small business owner, Trish Gove said it was difficult for housing cooperatives to do business because it has been five years since they were last allocated land with only those who are well-connected to council officials being given land.
"The problem with our town councils is that they are corrupt that is why they are failing to allocate the land to the rightful people," said Gove.
Recently, it was reported that the cash-strapped Gweru City Council will lose US$5 million if it commissions the River Valley stands that were irregularly developed on the city's dump site.
Members of the artisanal miners also complained of police harassment and called on the minister to engage with the mines ministry to make their activities legal and avoid illegal gold panning.
Nyoni promised to look into the grievances of all SMEs so that a solution that is beneficial to both businesses and the government could be found.
Secretary General of the Chamber of Commerce in Midlands, Bigboy Murenga acknowledged the grievances and expressed optimism Nyoni will work to find solutions.
A resolution was also made to formalise the Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCO) so as to know how much is in circulation.
It was also revealed that US$10 million was availed by the treasury to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to fund the SMEs nationwide.
Earlier this week, the RBZ also revealed that it had secured US$20 million to support production by small-scale miners amid a push to reach a 24 tonne output, close to the country's historical peak.news