Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
INDUSTRY and employers have lauded the Government’s decision to extend business hours to 4.30pm, saying the new development will increase productivity, capacity utilisation and positively impact on income for workers.
Government on Tuesday reduced the curfew hours and directed that the business hours which were ending at 3pm be revisited to end at 4.30pm, a development which captains of industry and employers said will boost productivity.
Last month, President Mnangagwa had announced a night curfew from 6pm to 6am for all but essential services and curtailed business hours to between 8am and 3pm for exempted businesses.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said in coming up with the new resolutions, Government noted the plight of the public and the need to lessen the risk of contracting Covid-19.
Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) president Dr Israel Murefu said Government’s decision to extend trading hours was a positive development for both employees and employers.
He said the new scenario will give businesses more time to trade and increase productivity.
“The extension of business hours is a positive development in the sense that it gives businesses more time to operate and trade, which has a positive implication on income, productivity and capacity utilisation.
“The 8am to 3pm scenario was not convenient for most businesses, particularly those that operate shifts and it was difficult to plan shifts around those times,” said Dr Murefu.
“Now there is an improvement, but you can’t say that this will have an immediate impact.
“The impact will be felt over the long term if those long hours are sustained over a long period. This is much better scenario than what was prevailing.”
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Association (CZRA) president Mr Denford Mutashu said the extension of operating hours will reduce congestion in shops and increase volume of sales.
“As Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers, we are happy for the extension of operating hours as it will reduce congestion in shops as shopping is spread out. It will also lead to increased sales as most customers were not able to complete shopping at 3pm,” he said.
“It means Government is being responsive both to the demands of Covid-19 prevention guidelines and business concerns.”
Mr Mutashu urged retailers to ensure that they conduct regular Covid-19 tests for their workers and enforce the principle of social distancing on both employees and customers.
He said CZRA recommended that all retail shops be disinfected at least once a month to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) national vice president Mr Joseph Gunda said industry has been struggling to manage operations within a short space of time.
He said the extension of trading hours will help boost production and economic growth.
“This is a positive development for us in industry.
“We had a torrid moment in terms of effective management of our operations within a short space of time from 8am to 3pm, and even our workers when it was 3pm you could see that there were jittery and afraid of delaying in town in light of curfew and it has been quite a challenge,” he said.
“Now there is more room and ultimately it means increased productivity for the manufacturing sector and more products would be made available in the market and generally there will be improvement in terms of economic growth.”
The Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Sekai Nzenza said in arriving at the decision to extend business hours, Government took due regard of the impact of the lockdown on business.
“The extension of business hours has been welcomed by retailers, manufacturers and the informal sector.
“My ministry released a report last week on the impact of the lockdown on business and one of the negative impacts on production was the short business hours,” she said.
“We hope industry will continue to benefit as the hours increase and also there is need to ensure that prevention of Covid is key to safeguarding the nation’s health.” — @mashnets