On Friday the 6th of March 2020, Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET), hosted an Open Discourse on Small Medium Enterprises and Informality in Zimbabwean Economy at in Harare. The Open Discourse is part and parcel of the Economic Governance Initiative (EGI) which VISET is implementing in collaboration with four other organisations. The Open Discourse was attended by a congregation of about 180 participants with a Female representation of 85 participants and 95 male participants. Participants also attended by representatives from 7 Government Ministries, representatives from the Gender Commission, various media houses, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, a representative from the World Bank, more than 15 CSOs, National Security Authority (NSSA) and VISET members from Harare, Chipinge, Bulawayo, Zaka, Mutare, Masvingo Urban, Gweru and the border town of Beitbridge. The meeting also attracted representatives from the Embassies, UNDP and various development workers and the donor community.
The meeting started with opening remarks from the VISET Executive Director who highlighted that the Open Discourse is of paramount importance in engaging authorities and citizens in discussing issues that are affecting the SMEs and informality in the Zimbabwean Economy. UDUGU Executive Director then gave an outline of the EGI and how the Open Discourse is expected to feed into the development of a Dialogue Framework for VISET and stakeholders in the Informal Economy. A total of 5 PowerPoint presentations were made and these focused on exploring the key issues affecting informality in Zimbabwe. Each presentation was followed up by a discussant who is also an expert in the related field. The following is the list of some of the topics that were covered by the presentations:
- Analysis on the Rural District and the Urban Councils Act. The presentation brought out proposed approaches to the Local Authorities, Provincial Councils and National Governance Reforms that relates to Small Medium Enterprises and Informality in the Zimbabwean Economy.
- An Analysis on the Planning Act of 1946 and its implications to Small Medium Enterprises.
- The ease of doing business reforms that are needed and what may be the obstacles towards such reform implementation. It also included case Studies from other countries and the presenter used Rwanda as an African prototype of easy doing business highlighting how Small Medium Enterprises can be the drivers of Vision 2030.
- Another presentation was on Corruption and how it affects processes and procedures in the formalization on the Informal Sector.
- The last presentation was on financial Inclusion of Small Medium Enterprises highlighting options and challenges for the informal sectors engagement with large Corporates.
The Open Discourse ended with an afternoon panel discussion on the incorporation and adaptation of the issues raised and how best they can be taken into consideration of inclusive Informal Economy planning and designing. Furthermore, it was agreed that there is need to put in place an Inclusive Dialogue Framework to guide VISETs engagements with all the stakeholders both at the micro and macro levels.
Source: Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET)