By Shephard Majengeta
WHEN I look around and see the various economic activities being done, I am convinced gone is the era of the ‘traditional industry’.
By creating an enabling environment, the Second Republic has further broadened the base for job creation.
We are a blessed nation.
Today, many black people, Zimbabweans, own businesses doing jobs that were once a no-go area for black people.
We must redefine the meaning of employment, or at least make a differentiation between being economically active and economically inactive.
Is being employed going to an industry or factory owned by another person or wearing a suit and going to an office?
What is the percentage of people employed or unemployed in Zimbabwe?
Textbook economists will give you a scary figure, but that is not true.
If the figures were true then most people in Zimbabwe would have literally starved to death.
The reality is that one is either a farmer, selling juice cards or working as a hairdresser or barber — all these people are economically active.
Elsewhere in the world, hair-dressers or vegetable vendors would be put in the category of the self-employed or small-scale business entrepreneurs.
And there are many of them.
For instance, findings of a survey carried out by a think-tank, IPPR, stated that the UK is “…becoming the ‘self-employment capital’ of Western Europe after an increase in the number of people working for themselves.”
At the time of publication, the report stated that the average self-employment rate in the EU stood at 14 percent; with self-employment in Greece as high as 32 percent, Italy 23 percent, while in the UK it stood at 14 percent.
When the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) publishes figures of unemployment rates, the self-employed are not classified as unemployed.
In fact, they would report that unemployment figures have fallen.
If they classified the self-employed as unemployed, then the UK would have a higher unemployment rate than what is officially known.
For instance, many Zimbabweans in the UK are self-employed after failing to get the jobs they trained for.
Many self-employed Zimbabweans provide cleaning services to private houses and institutions while others are plumbers and plasterers.
All these people back in Zimbabwe would be said vanorarama nekukiya-kiya, but these are all self-employed and just do not pay taxes, which they should.
A small-scale farmer in the UK is considered as being self-employed or a small-scale business enterprise/ entrepreneur.
However, here in Zimbabwe, an A1 farmer would not consider himself as employed; same as a person who owns a small piece of land and is growing vegetables or chickens for sale.
A university graduate who starts his own carwash company is not considered employed and is seen as a failure.
It seems the mark of being employed is wearing a suit and going to an office to earn even less than what he/she can make from the carwash.
Did you know the world’s second largest retailer store, Tesco (founded in London in 1919), was founded by a market stall holder, Jack Cohen, who earned a living by selling groceries on market stalls.
In 1919, after receiving £30 as demobilisation (after serving in the First World War), he bought a market stall and later owned many market stalls that later became a wholesale business, culminating in the world’s second largest retail store. To date, Tesco has stores in 12 countries in Europe, North America, Asia, Malaysia and Thailand.
It employs more than half a million people and owns a mobile phone network.
It is time Zimbabweans re-define employment.
We should not expect whites to come from Europe and America in droves to employ us.
Economic activities, such as selling vegetables, are a form of employment.
Government should step up the formalisation of the so-called informal sector by issuing licences and making people pay taxes.
The tax collector must look at the books of every person who is economically active and see that they file their taxes with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA).
It is wrong to say the Government has failed to create jobs when people have been given resources to make a living from.
Vision 2030, of an upper-middle income economy, will be realised through our sweat.