Covid-19: Zimbabwe advised to find best formula to re-open businesses

By Almot Maqolo

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Zimbabwe needs to contain the spread of the virus through vaccination and allow the economy to open up in order to limit impact of lockdowns, latest report shows.

The southern African nation announced a level 4 national lockdown starting on 05 January 2021. This was due to a spike in Covid-19 cases, which saw the country recording an increase in deaths. The lockdown, which was initially for four weeks and was further extended by another two weeks, has resulted in disruption in industry operations.

Clothing retailer Edgars Stores Limited, recently said, the ongoing lockdown has denied business two months of normal trading.

The southern African nation has so far recorded over 35 000 coronavirus cases and 1 456 related deaths.

CZI undertook a snap survey to evaluate the state of industry during the current lockdown. The survey looked at four main areas which includes production, employee levels, demand and supply chains. A total of 57 companies responded to the survey.

“Forty four percent of the of the respondents highlighted that they were operating at less than 30% capacity utilisation, with 32% recording capacity utilisation of between 30% and 60%, and 24% of the responses noting capacity utilisation of between 60% and 90%,” it said.

The survey results showed that employment levels of workers coming to work varied from one organisation to another.

“Employment levels ranged from 10% to 100%. Thirty seven percent of the respondents had employment levels of between 50% and 100%, whilst sixty three percent had employment levels of less than 50%.”

On the demand side, CZI said, 65% of the responses highlighted that the lockdown has negatively affected demand for their products, while 35% highlighted that demand for their products has not been affected by the lockdown, especially those that supply to businesses that are considered essential.

The report indicated that 86% of the business noted that their supply chains have been heavily disrupted by the lockdown, while 14% highlighted minimal to no disruptions in supply chains.

“The main reasons for the disruptions were, border delays, restrictions in movement and certain suppliers designated as not essential and therefore, not able to operate,” reads part of the report.

Lack of Stakeholder empathy and sympathy during the lockdown have been singled out as another biggest challenge to the industry.

“Zimra forces all businesses to install Forex fiscal devices when businesses are struggling.”

The businesses are facing foreign currency shortage as the government is taking 40% through mandatory liquidation. Also High cost of testing employees.

CZI recommends tax waivers on all tax heads and increasing trading hours. 

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