Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
GOVERNMENT has called upon vulnerable groups of people and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to approach the relevant ministries to benefit from the cushioning funding, which is still up for grabs.
President Mnangagwa recently announced an $18 billion economic stimulus package to cushion companies and vulnerable groups against the disruptive impact of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. He also announced a $500 million package towards supporting vulnerable people and SMEs. There are some who have received allowances under the fund while others are still to benefit.
Those who have not yet received the funding, according to the Minister of Women Affairs, Community and Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Dr Sithembiso Nyoni, have gone to social media to air their anger instead of approaching relevant ministries so that their challenges are addressed.
Addressing the Midlands Covid-19 provincial taskforce in Gweru yesterday, Dr Nyoni said social media will not assist those who complain and urged them to approach proper offices.
“All I am saying is SMEs must start applying, if they face problems, they must not go shouting on the social media, they must come to the ministry and we solve problems so that they benefit from what the President has done for them,” said Dr Nyoni.
“The President has put this money for them and they must have access to it. After the lockdown, His Excellency in his kind heart made two funds available, one cushioning fund in which the most vulnerable benefitted through the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and as a ministry we also recorded the informal sector that was vulnerable to register.”
Dr Nyoni said Government was alive to the fact that there are a lot of people and businesses who have not yet received anything from the fund.
“I still want to say today, there are a lot of people that are still suffering as a result of the lockdown, and they should register and go to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare for the cushioning fund. When they get there they would be vetted, we don’t want our people to suffer silently because Government is there,” she said.
“Secondly, the President put a $500 million fund for our SMEs, and it will go through my ministry and the Women’s Bank. Let me announce that SMEs must not suffer alone, we are here for you.
“We have worked with the Women’s Bank and put funds into three tiers, one the green field, if there are SMEs that have lost everything out there, go to the Women’s Bank, they will retrain you, re-orient you and restart you.
“The second one is the informal sector. There are some that hang in there but there funds are depleted. We also had a slot for them, to fund them, to resuscitate and grow their sector. The last one is the SMEs, these are registered companies with a fixed abode. They should also come and apply,” she said.