Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) proudly joins our nation of Zimbabwe in celebrating 42 years of Independence.
1980 saw the advent of majority rule with great strides made in sectors such as health and education as government spared no effort in bringing the black majority into mainstream national affairs. The inherited economy was largely designed to cater for the minority, with services such as banking limited to urban areas. Laws in existence at Independence were crafted to ensure the interests of that minority were protected to the exclusion of the black majority.
Fast forward to 42 years down the line and the majority of these laws are still in existence in the form of municipal by laws and Statutory Instruments that are referenced by local authorities to crack down on the Informal Economy. This despite the immense contribution by the sector to economic activity. Whilst we can quote all sorts of statistics such as the fact that the Informal Economy provides over 90 percent of jobs and that it is the source of over 70 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the real impact of the sector is felt when one goes to traders markets and you see the amount of transactions and money in circulation every day of the week.
VISET is of the view that in place of chasing the ever-elusive Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the first port of call-in line with the self determination that many lives were lost in pursuit of, that there must be purposeful legislation designed to nurture and grow the Informal Economy in its entirety. Whilst we acknowledge the efforts of bringing the sector into the mainstream economy, we feel that this must be in tandem with complimentary efforts by other ministries such as the Ministry of Local Government repealing the colonial laws that are currently in existence that serve no purpose besides to close out the majority from fully participating in economic affairs.
We believe that such bold actions will not only add impetus to the Formalisation process but that it will bring into the financial system millions of dollars that are currently circulating in the Informal Economy, thereby increasing revenues for both local authorities and government.
It is important to mention that if harnessed properly, the Informal Economy can never be a charity case for handouts but can be the driver of the national economy to the benefit of all.
Government priorities are many yet their revenue base is small, with the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) reporting that as many as 4.5 million of formal jobs have been lost over the years. All these people along with university graduates and school leavers are finding their sustenance in the Informal Economy and yet government would rather crackdown on this sector instead of embracing it and ensuring its growth in order to leverage on the sector’s financial might in order to provide the nation with healthcare, affordable education, social security and infrastructure development.
VISET continues to be involved and track the ongoing Formalisation process to ensure the end product will speak to the lived realities of the Informal Economy, from the roadside trader at Lusulu to the small scale miner in Shurugwi and it is our prayer that this will mark the beginning of an overhaul of government policies so that the country can once again begin to work for the black majority and not for only a privileged minority as was the case pre Independence.
Happy 42nd Birthday Zimbabwe, Amhlope, Makorokoto!!