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Sunday Women Matters with Blondie - Informal Economy Workers Are Human Too

20 Jul 2014 at 10:17hrs | Views

The 1991 to 1995 Economic Structural Adjustment Programme saw the closure of many companies and retrenchment of workers. Most of the workers who lost their jobs turned to street vending, crossborder trading and backyard manufacturing among a lot of other income generating activities. Needless to say, the majority of street vendors, market vendors and crossborder traders were women while most men set up backyard carpentry and welding businesses among others. These informal economy activities, then became a source of livelihood for many a Zimbabwean family.

The economic crisis period 1997 to 2008 saw the spewing of more formally employed people into the informal setup. Streets, bus termini, ranks and pavements teemed with people peddling different goods. The Rhodesian-built market places and vending stalls could not accommodate the thousands churned out by the formal economy setup. Neither could they cater for the jobless youths born of jobless parents. Post-independence fleamarket and vending spaces are still not enough to accommodate every trader as companies continue to close, spewing more people, young and old, female and male, able-bodied and living with disability into the informal setup.

The most important thing to take note of is that these are not just 'illegal, public nuisance sort of trash' but Zimbabwean citizens with full constitutional rights. It is on this note that I commend Honourable Beata Nyamupinga for moving a motion in parliament calling for the licensing of vendors and an end to harassment of female vendors by the police. On the same breath, I acknowledge and appreciate Honourable Lucia Matibenga's support for the motion.

It is my hope that out of the parliamentary debate on street vendors will be born a true realisation that informal economy workers are human too.

Source - Lorraine Blondie Sibanda
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