Covid-19 takes toll on restaurants Mr Bongai Zamchiya

Business Reporter

Over 2 500 casual workers normally employed by sit and dine restaurants are currently out of work as the sector has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown restrictions to manage the disease, it has been learnt.

Restaurants across the country normally employ casual workers during busy periods, but have not been able to do so due to the pandemic, Restaurant Operators Association of Zimbabwe (ROAZ) president Mr Bongai Zamchiya told our sister publication Business Weekly during the live online broadcast programme State of the Market.

Mr Zamchiya said given the extent of the lockdown periods, a lot of restaurant owners did not have capital to sustain their operations and “one of the things they ended up doing was having to cut the number of employees. At the moment we are estimating that about 2 000 jobs have been lost within the industry.”

In his own business, Mr Zamchiya, who runs Pariah State restaurants, had to reduce employees from a peak of 120 in January 2020 to the current less than 35 employees.

“Some of those jobs have gone forever, and it’s the reality we have to face” he said.

Mr Zamchiya said between 300 and 400 restaurants are teetering or on the verge of not opening due to the impact of Covid-19. Zimbabwe has approximately 900 restaurants employing at least 9 000 permanent workers.

“That’s a material number. We are also receiving information from our membership that a lot of tenants have been given notice by their landlords.

“Landlords don’t want to carry the risk of having a restaurant as an operator because you are in a position where effectively you could get shut down any day.

“While our landlords can be in a position where they can feel a level of sympathy towards their various tenants, ultimately landlords are looking at getting a gain out of their asset, they are looking to get rentals,” Mr Zamchiya said.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on restaurant operations will also have a significant impact on revenue to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) where they contribute 2 percent of their turnover in the form of levies.

According to Mr Zamchiya restaurants contribute about 40 percent of the total revenue ZTA makes. 

“During the Covid-19 period, particularly with hotels being affected by the absence of inbound tours and operating business, restaurant contribution when we were in a better position to operate rose as much as 60 percent of ZTA’s revenue.  So we are a key participant,” Mr Zamchiya pointed out.

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