Vendors demand clear informal sector policy

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

GOVERNMENT and political parties should come up with clear policies on the management of the informal sector as well as strategies to incorporate it into the formal economy, vendors leaders have said.

Informal traders from across the country met in Harare on Friday under the umbrella of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Association (ZCIEA) and bemoaned the failure by the Zanu PF government to fulfill its election promises.

ZCIEA president Lorraine Sibanda at the end of the meeting called on government to establish a stand-alone ministry to administer the informal economy.

“Government must create a separate Ministry with responsibility to develop and implement policies on the informal economy and its transition to formality,” Sibanda told journalists after the indaba.

She accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration of harassing vendors despite having promised a more sober approach to dealing with their issues ahead of last year’s elections.

“And they promised that if they will be elected into power they will facilitate the availability of shelters and toilets in vending sites.

“But soon after the elections, we witnessed a direct opposite (of what had been promised) in some areas, especially in Harare, we saw a rise in the harassment and violence against vendors in the streets, goods were confiscated, vendors were arrested, some were beaten up,” Sibanda said.

In attendance were informal traders groups like, Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association, Vendors Initiative and Economic Transformation, Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders Association as well as Women Alliance of Business Association Zimbabwe all affiliated to ZCIEA.

Sibanda called for the decriminalisation of informal trade “particularly the destruction of their sources of livelihoods.”

“We call upon all political and business leaders in Zimbabwe to demonstrate their respect for and recognition of the informal economy.

“We demand a complete halt to the harassment and criminalisation of informal workers such as vendors and traders, and particularly to the destruction of their livelihoods,” she said.

“Local authorities must provide appropriate facilities and trading areas for vendors and traders that allow them access to markets.”