BY LORRAINE MUROMO/TATENDA SQUARE
Zimbabwe has been adjudged to be operating a 65% informal economy, with women constituting the bigger number of informal traders.TRADE unions yesterday blasted the move by Harare and Chitungwiza councils to demolish structures used by informal traders to sell their wares, saying it was going to severely affect their livelihoods.
On Monday, the Harare City Council and Chitungwiza Council in a joint operation with the Zimbabwe Republic Police razed down informal traders’ structures saying they were disturbing flow of traffic.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Japhet Moyo (pictured) said his union was against the demolitions.
“At the moment we are in discussions with the government on strategies to formalise the informal economy. Government should have allowed this process to be completed so that we turn this informality into real small business enterprises,” he said.
Moyo added that even if they were viewed as illegal structures, it was important for authorities to note that they were responsible for their existence due to failure to run the economy.
“Government through the Small-to-Medium Enterprises ministry promotes this informal economy and encourages lawlessness when they want votes and once they have the votes they no longer want the same constituency. There are many causes of informality besides political patronage.”
Moyo said the majority of citizens in the country were surviving through informal trade, adding that government should have courted partners to assist the informal traders with proper structures.
“The International Labour Organisation has contracted a consultant to work with social partners on strategies to formalise the informal economy. Most countries in the world with poor economic planning policies have similar illegal settlements and these are not in urban areas only, these so-called illegal activities are found in mining, farming and the entire country is dominated by so many unco-ordinated economic activities.”
Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy secretary-general Wisborn Malaya said: “The council should have set up legal structures first before resorting to demolitions. Most people resort to vending because there are no jobs in the industry and they use the money they get from vending to pay council bills.”