The Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Sithembiso Nyoni was embarrassed that Zimbabwe was importing pins, nails, needles, toilet paper, water and tooth picks. This could, however, change with the formalisation of the informal sector and the drive to promote manufacturing in small and medium enterprises.
Nyoni was responding to a question by Kambuzuma Member of Parliament Willias Madzimure about whether her ministry would promote small enterprises that were into manufacturing rather than those in retail as these were killing the manufacturing industry by importing cheap products.
Nyoni said her ministry was indeed focussing on manufacturing and the productive sector. She said her ministry had recently held training for 118 enterprises all of which were in manufacturing or productive services.
“We did not graduate vendors. We graduated those that are manufacturing, so that way, we are encouraging bottom up, encouraging our goods to come into the market. I agree with you, unless we can stimulate enough quality production, we cannot stop goods coming in because our population needs goods…….
“Can you imagine that we are importing pins, nails, needles, toilet paper, water and tooth picks. This Incubation Centre is going to enable SMES to deliver those small things to our economy, into our economy and into the market,” she said referring to an incubation centre the government intends to set up with the help of the Indian government.
Q & A
MR. MADZIMURE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. The Minister answered part of my question when she was responding to Hon. Khupe’s question. My question was going to be, are you considering segregating these SMEs, considering that the majority are in the retail sector where they are actually, in a way, assisting the destroying of our manufactured products that we used to sell because the majority of the people are selling readymade products coming from outside the country. So, are you going to segregate the SMEs so that we are left with those in the manufacturing industry, where we concentrate on substituting the other products that we have been producing?
If you look at our textile industry, it is because of technology that we now do not have many SMEs venturing into that industry and the technology that we have in the existing clothing manufacturers is archaic. The equipment produces products at a very high cost. So, are you going to concentrate on capacitating these SMEs, first categorising them in manufacturing and then retailing, so that on the manufacturing part, we concentrate on retooling them, giving them that equipment that can produce products that we can export.
Minister, our biggest problem is that we are concentrating on consumption, things that we manufacture and consume in Zimbabwe, but if you look at our balance of payment, we are importing more things from outside than what we are exporting. So, until we can produce our own products that we export, that is when we will then be able to create jobs. So, my concern is that we are not creating jobs by exporting things outside because we use equipment that is old and traditional to manufacture our wares that we sell pamusika, for example our shovels that we cannot export. What are you doing to ensure that we produce quality products that can be exported?
THE MINISTER OF SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES AND CO-OPERATIVE DEVELOPMENT (MRS. NYONI): I would like to thank the hon. member for the questions. I think if the hon. member was listening carefully, I said the 118 that we graduated were only those who were manufacturing or with the productive sector and services. We did not graduate vendors. We graduated those that are manufacturing, so that way, we are encouraging bottom up, encouraging our goods to come into the market. I agree with you, unless we can stimulate enough quality production. We cannot stop goods coming in because our population needs goods. This is why we are starting from the production. So your question is pertinent and the answer is yes, we are segregating and putting more emphasis on manufacturing and production as opposed to retail and vending.
On technology, I think the hon. member will also remember that I talked about the Incubation Centre that we are setting up with the Indians. In this centre, we have chosen 27 sectors that are going to be incubated here to manufacture. Can you imagine that we are importing pins, nails, needles, toilet paper, water and tooth picks. This Incubation Centre is going to enable SMES to deliver those small things to our economy, into our economy and into the market. On the machines, you will be surprised hon. member, that most of our polytechnics and universities are teaching engineering. SMES are making their own machines. They are making machines for peanut butter, oil expression, candle making and for these small things, SMES are making those machines themselves, and selling them to each other.
We are not importing machines that SMES are using for producing their goods. What we now need is to upgrade them so that their machines are capable of producing quality goods, and we will do this through this incubation centre. I thank you.