By Daniel Makamba
MASHONALAND Central’s mainstreaming of the youths and women in all economic sectors is still a challenge due to the non-availability of cash in the banks to empower efforts by these groups in setting up new small and medium enterprises in response to the Zimbabwe open for business mantra.
In its 2018 People’s Manifesto the ruling part Zanu PF said for the next coming five years it will prioritize mainstreaming of women and youth in rural areas so that they may be able to run income generating projects as well as creating employment.
In its endeavor to fulfill the promise the government went on to set up the Zimbabwe Women’s Micro-Finance Bank (ZWMFB) to provide loans to women who are excluded from financial institutions that require immovable property as collateral, meanwhile recent reports indicate that only 15 women throughout the whole country have been given loans.
In an interview with Radio VOP a number of women said lack of currency in the bank is a serious contributory challenge towards electoral promises fulfillment, “Here in Mazowe North about 180 women managed to open bank accounts with the ZWMFB way before the 2018 harmonised elections.
“However, we understand the bank still has no cash meaning there is no way we are going to access loans so that we may start small business in our rural areas, this is the same with the Youth Bank, it has no money, we are open for business but as of now there is no business to run since we have no capital,” said Mrs Shelter Goteka.
A local gender activist, Mrs Clarah Chikerema said opening women for business will be a significant step towards realizing development in the province, “ recent studies have revealed that women constitutes about 52% of the population, they work ten times more than men producing more than half the country’s food, yet they earn only 10% of the country’s income.
“ Therefore, there is serious need to empower women financially especially from the grassroots for the government to fully realize the benefits of Zimbabwe open for business mantra, meanwhile failure to empower women means development challenges cannot be tackled with success,” she said.
The Zimbabwe open for business mantra is seen as a challenge in view of isolation of rural areas based women in the development goal, “grassroots areas like many parts of this province are usually the ones which benefit last mainly owing to the system’s partiality towards central towns like Harare, thus rural women end up tailing behind.
“As marginalized areas we will never be open for business if we are constantly isolated from the national agendas for example many youths and women have not yet opened bank accounts because they lack know-how of doings these things and eventually they will lag behind development,” said a small holder farmer in Chiweshe, Mrs Chengetai Marume.