Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) helps the launch of the Support People’s Budget Campaign in Harare today.
The campaign is in partnership with the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) and is part of the two organisation’s efforts to strengthen citizen agency amoung women and youth informal traders as well as fostering dialogue in pursuit of their community development needs. The event was attended by Socio-Economic Champions (SOCHAMPS), SEJAS, Representatives from Residents Associations, Students, Graduate Street Vendors, Urban Planners and Gender Activists based in Harare, Chitungwiza and Goromonzi.
VISET Executive Director Samuel Wadzai in his welcoming remarks urged participants to speak their minds freely and contribute on the issues affecting them at marketplaces and within their communities and for them to think of ways to hold policymakers to account during the budget cycle.
Mr O’Brien Makore a local governance practitioner who was the first facilitator said it was of critical importance that government prioritises the informal sector as there was more economic activity there than in the formal economy, hence the budget should reflect that balance.
Makore also spoke on the need for greater resources to be channelled to social services such as health, education and social safety nets.
During the plenary session, participants spoke on the need to rationalise the tax regime, saying it was improper that citizens were being taxed to the hilt whilst multinational mining companies were getting tax holidays yet making no contribution towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Another contribution was that Social Protection for all needs to be fully institutionalised and not be peace-meal in nature if it were to be protected from abuse.
Another participant expressed the hope that there would be greater capacitation of informal sector players through skills development, whilst others touched on diversified credit lines, market infrastructure development and the formalisation of the informal economy which must be a wholesome approach not only focusing on financial extraction through taxes.
The second facilitator Mr Tashinga Zamba from ZIMCODD spoke on the social justice aspects of budgets, with a breakdown of the 2021 budget and it’s allocations to the various ministries. Tashinga drew comparisons of the Ministry of Defence allocation which was 6.5 percent of the national budget yet the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture was allocated just 0.8 percent, this in a country with 67 percent of the population being youths, hence resultantly why there are increases in drug abuse.
Mr. John Maketo of ZIMCODD said participants needed to be on their guard when even goods and services were provided for to be able to interrogate amounts allocated to these if they were commensurate to value and reasonableness.
Gillian Chinzete VISET Programmes Manager acknowledged contributions from the participants and informed them that they would be consolidating these for presentation to Parliament.
In closing, Samuel Wadzai thanked all the participants and hailed VISET’s partnership with ZIMCODD saying the launch was but a first step in the journey in holding both local and national government to account throughout the budget cycle and where commitments were not meant they interrogate as to #HowFar?