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Alba Iulia
Monday, September 13, 2021

Ministry for Small & Medium Enterprises is an unnecessary duplication to the mandate of the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry

Columns Ministry for Small & Medium Enterprises is an unnecessary duplication to the...

By Sean Tembo

1. As Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP), we strongly believe that the creation of the new Ministry for Small & Medium Enterprises is an unnecessary duplication to the mandate of the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry.

The Small Enterprises Development Act of 1996 defines an SME as an enterprise with an annual turnover of not more than K80 million. This means that when you look at the nature of business entities operating in Zambia, more than 90% of them can be classified as SMEs.

On the other hand, the mandate of advancing the interests of Zambian businesses falls under the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry. This means that with the creation of the new Ministry of Small & Medium Enterprises, there will be a 90% overlap between the two ministries as they will be servicing the same entities in the economy.

2. As Patriots for Economic Progress, our considered view is that if President Hichilema wanted to create an additional ministry to advance the interests of minorities in the economy, he should have considered creating a Ministry for the Informal Sector.

Several World Bank studies have revealed that Zambia’s informal sector accounts to at least 40 percent of our economy and is made up of marketeers, street vendors and other traders in the grey economy. Additionally, the informal sector is not captured in the measurement of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and its participants do not have adequate access to the banking system. This means that the informal sector players face unique challenges which require the intervention of Government through the establishment of a dedicated ministry. Part of the mandate of such a proposed Ministry for the Informal Sector would be to help entities in the informal sector to transition to the formal sector so that they can contribute to the country’s GDP.

3. As Patriots for Economic Progress, we therefore call upon President Hakainde Hichilema to consider abolishing the Ministry of Small & Medium Enterprises and instead replace it with a Ministry for the Informal Sector. Such a move will achieve two key benefits; firstly it will help address the duplication that currently exists between Ministry of Small & Medium Enterprises and Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, and secondly it will help to address the special needs of players in the informal sector and help them to transition to the formal sector. Such a scenario would significantly contribute to the much needed growth of our economy and result in a creation of the much needed employment especially for the youth.


  1. No need to abolish the new Ministry. All they can do is give it a different Mandate similar to the one you have pointed out. Let’s bring serious contributions and recommendations to the table.

  2. For the first time he is right on this one. Is it not surprising that this is the same government that was preaching small cabinet. And now this new Ministry. It does not make sense. This new Ministry will just take away the mandates of Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry.
    Disaster in the offing.

  3. Mr. Sean Tembo, you got less than 0.001% of the votes during the last election – so maybe you should just ordinarily shut up?

  4. I strongly agree politics aside HH said he wanted a small Cabinet to save resources and now we have a new Ministry doing the same thing Commerce is supposed to do. This is a serious duplication. Instead of saving we’re doubling expenditure. Real disaster.

  5. HH is right on the creation of this ministry to take care of the cottage industries since the demise of SIDO it has been difficult to coordinate small scale enterprises. Scrapping Ministries of Religious and Chiefs Affairs has compensated. Lets think outside the box. HH has his own vision to manage our public affairs and we need to give him all the support and not oppose his plans before their are implemented. Lets stop this Kandasa like mentality.

  6. I’m warming up to Sean Tembo. This is the sort of politics we want. Let’s debate issue based rather than hiding behind baseless personal attacks. ST is correct, one of these ministries must be removed. You cannot pretend to be prudent on one hand and then wasteful on then other.

  7. Tembo, in broad terms, the informal sector comprises of enterprises which don’t comply with the full extent of government laws and regulations. This informal sector is characterized by its ease on entry, low levels of skills, labour intensive technology and small firm sizes. So creating a Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises is more inclusive as this would be vehicle of supporting enterprises in both the formal and informal sector but providing this support in different ways and in different areas according to the needs and challenges the informal and formal sectors face in enhancing their enterprises!! Enterprises can either be formal or informal.

  8. Yah…the President must not abolish the Ministry.. God gave him the vision for that…maybe he can rename it as Ministry of Informal Sector..to bring many on board..like what Sean has said..For the first Sean Tembo you have impressed me..tone down bring suggestions to govt in a mature and patriotic manner..not being confrontation UNPD always.

  9. HH’ thinking in simple terms is this; he has created a new ministry to help the informal sector to transition from illegality or informality into formal sector businesses by nursing them and giving them hope and help ( HH). U cannot live all your life in the informal sector with all its risk, inconveniences and uncertainties.

  10. Mr Sean Tembo, I thought you were just another chancer when you ran for presidential office be I’ve since been impressed with your caliber of reasoning and engaging on issues. Keep it up, these are the kinds of fearless checks and balances we need. In fact the Republican President would do well to consider what is said on such blogs because it is objective and not personal. His own supporters are his own worst enemy because to them he can do no wrong even when he does.

  11. So this chap talks now. Why didn’t speak when Lungu created the ministry of religious affairs??? Tembo please focus on others. Let HH govern based on his vision. Let’s judge on the results of the ministry if no results are achieved

  12. Now ST is being reasonable and not confrontational judging by his language on this one. This is how it should be, not talking of impeachment even when there are no reasonable grounds for that.

  13. The SMEs and the Katembas are the lifeline of the Zambian economy and they need representation something the Ministry of Commerce was not doing…there is alot of cash in the black market that we are losing in the form of revenue as a country. There is need to promote a cashless society were a vegetable seller can have access to a mobile handheld Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) that is able to process card transactions. The only issue is our commercial banks are too greedy and selfish they dont see the bigger picture just like they took forever to invest in Chip and Pin systems.

  14. Useless critic how do you say its a duplication when the objectives of the two ministries are different ,,, when
    the aim of the two ministries are at no point intersecting
    Your way of criticism is primitive.

  15. He doesn’t know what the president has in mind……….

    That new ministry is to cater for street traders and other small traders and bring in cottage industries learned from other countries ………like making shoes from tires or refurbishing car batteries or radiators learned from India…….

    The original ministry will cater for bigger manufacturing enterprises and industries

    No need to make noise , just adjust the turn over stipulation in the act to below $10 or 20 million for the new ministry…

  16. This is positive criticism from this self confessed hunter.
    HH is a man, just like Lungu – though not morally rotten.
    It is up to HH to show us that this ministry is useful, coz most of us think it is not.
    But then again, most of us are not the president. We can not appreciate the bigger picture.
    For now, we will trust HH and support his decisions to clean up the mess PF left.
    We are also waiting for project recovery to go into full swing. Stolen money must be recovered.

  17. The idea of the new ministry is to cater for unemployed youth , up scale the thousands of Street traders to viable sustainable small industrialists……in the west known as cottage industries.

    You can’t have Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry looking after this grouping aswell as trying to attract major manufacturing that employs hundreds ……

    Even me who is not an accountant can see sense in this new ministry,

    That is why bally is an accomplished business man…….

    The score is

    Bally 3 : 0 critics.


  19. Sometimes definitions are contextual. I gather that the UPND government would like to widen the tax base. There is a lot to be gained by engaging the SME Ministry with the informal sector and I gather that is also what their mandate will be. Good points. Let’s see how the SME Ministry structures its functions. At the very least there is no Ministry as useless as that Religion and Affairs we had in the previous government.

  20. flag Corruption scandals: 48 Houses Social Security Cash Luxury Presidential Jet Ambulances Fire Trucks Mukula Trees Ndola-Lusaka Rd Malawi Maizegate Fuelgate Swaziland landgate Zesco Loans Honeybee

    Silly, man you are busy debating the name of the ministry instead of their Duty Statement; strategic vision; and objectives. Call them by any other name, what matters is what they have been mandated to accomplish… you could call them “ministry of Kaponyas”; “Ministry of Sean Tembo”, the name is not what makes them duplicitous.
    I’m guessing the target for this Ministry of Small & Medium Enterprises is the informal sector and small scale businesses and farmers; whereas Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry is targeted to International trade and bringing in foreign investments and stock markets businesses.

  21. flag Corruption scandals: 48 Houses Social Security Cash Luxury Presidential Jet Ambulances Fire Trucks Mukula Trees Ndola-Lusaka Rd Malawi Maizegate Fuelgate Swaziland landgate Zesco Loans Honeybee

    At ‘constructive criticism’; ‘smart’, this is bukopo… ask HH to give you the Vision Statement and Plan and debate the contents and not the name of ministries. For all I care, you can use the same name for all ministries so long as their actual work and tasks differ. Zambians, please open up your grey matter and smell the coffee.

  22. I strongly disagree with PEP leader. He is living in the past. What is the latest trends in job creation world over, it is small business who often miss on capital, enterprenuship training and other business support. Thus this ministry must be there. Other countries like SA has it. Minor changes are needed later like Ministry of commerce should be refined to Trade and industry. Also ministry of Science and Technology is important but later on should be refined to Ministry of Science and Innovation. Innovation is much broader than technology and that is what is needed. Thus PEP leader is just reactive without looking at world trends in job creation and growing the economy.

  23. Sean, you do not truly have an understanding of this and as an accountant this is shameful. Commerce largely deals with ZDA issues and bringing in large investors. Not-for-profits and development bodies have actually been filling the gap for government in respect of SMEs.

  24. Good suggestions, it’s now upto His Excellency to table them. You can’t have two ministries with similar mandates. If anything, small and medium Enterprises can be a department under commerce.

  25. Your suggestions ST are noted and your insights are great. However, it’s also not a bad idea to have a Ministry of SME. The youth empowerment PF had introduced can be incorporated here. Within the Ministry of SME can be 3 Permanent Secretaries: PS-1 looking after Informal traders and helping them to be better in business, PS-2 nurturing those transitioning from informal to formal business and PS-3 taking care of those fully in formal business and helping them to think big by aiming at becoming corporates and transitioning to the Ministry of Commerce. SME ministry should serve only business interests of Zambians and should have branches in all distructs. No tuntemba investors here. Any foreigner wishing to do business in Zambia should be credible, registered under ministry of commerce…

  26. I would like to think the President is trying to really revive the economy, if you look at commerce and industry its mostly large corporates, international investors through ZDA, but I think the Ministry of SMEs will mostly look at smaller businesses and to spur growth. The Politics of names may not matter much at this time, lets check the results

  27. Looks to me HH has a big vision in growing the Small scale and Medium Enterprises ( which is basically the informal sector ) create an engine for middle class income earners. Expand the tax base something all the previous Governments have paid lip service to. Let us try it.

  28. The Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry still remains with a huge mandate of increasing the SMEs participation in trade and commerce by way of providing an enabling environment through effective implementation of policies within their realm such as preferential procurement/reservation schemes.

    The Ministry of SMEs should absorp those operating informally through the provision of business development support services, which starts from registering their unregistered entities through to learning how to develop a business plan, seek credit, implement the business and so forth. So, my expectation from this singling out of this Ministry is for them to manage effective financial services beside business development support. Capital is key, so I expect that this Ministry of SMEs will…

  29. These Ministries are interlinked and should talk to each other to deliver. You cant say the Ministry of Local Government should not engage in health matters because we have Ministry of Health – What is the role of Director Public Health at the Council ? Dullooo..!!!

  30. Small medium ministry, Green Economy and. Environment can be departments in commerce in the case of small medium and promote green jobs. Green Economy could be a department in Energy, Water, Lands so what will it being that will not be done by these three?

  31. When people say that they want to create Jobs that is what they mean. Create structures that are essentially a duplicate of sister ministry and reward those who helped up the vote. Political parties per ser are the same, they face similar challenges in economic development of the nation. The real problem are goinng to be the so called ” Cadres” who are going to expect to “reap where they did not sow” Tha is the cadres who are in the habit of collecting money from established structures, tenders etc. Those who store the money need to appear in court. UPND’s corruption songs where deafening when they were in opposition, now it is time for them to prove the corruption they sung so much about. We want to see real people in orange uniforms.

  32. “consider abolishing the Ministry of Small & Medium Enterprises and instead replace it with a Ministry for the Informal Sector” What are you talking about. Sounds like your critique is misplaced, article falls flat.

  33. Sean Tembo could be assumed to be a hyper critique of Hakainde Hichilema, but his reasoning has a background.

    HH has championed a wasteless government, a lean cabinet. It then follows that the Kantemba SME ministry can still remain under Babwana Macro businesses, but streamlined for efficiency.

    Even the other two ministries that deal with animal husbandry and crop production were supposed to be merged.

  34. I do not buy in the idea of Sean Tembo of creating a ministry of informal sector because what matters is the mandates that is given to ministry of commerce and to the new ministry for small and medium enterprises which i feel is distinct, new ministries are created when it is seen that a particular area is neglected and needs more attention, let us give HH to fulfil his vision and criticise when enough time pass to allow for proper results of his action to manifest, how ever sean tembo has the right to offer checks and balances but also note that HE also has dip reflection before coming up with these ministries and it is him who will drive the plan


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