Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) held a Multi stakeholder Feedback meeting with Nkulumane Informal Economy workers on August 11, 2022. In attendance were Councillors, Bulawayo City Council (BCC) officials, fellow informal economy representatives and the Bulawayo Representative for the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community Development and Small to Medium Enterprises Development.
VISET Executive Director Samuel Wadzai in his welcoming remarks acknowledged the support that stakeholders have continually given the organisation in the implementation of their programmes. He also urged informal traders to articulate the challenges they encounter but should also give credit for any positive developments that will have been achieved by solution holders.
Programmes Manager Gillian Chinzete expressed the hope that the BCC and central government would implement more gender responsive service delivery in public infrastructure development. During the plenary session, informal traders expressed frustration with the confiscation of their wares by law enforcement saying they were being charged ZWL 2000 or USD 5 in fines but were not given their goods back. In most instances these goods would be sold through auction to fellow officials.
BCC Town Planner Shelton Mtunzi Sithole exhorted VISET and other informal economy associations to lobby for local authorities to be vested with arresting powers if the practice of goods being confiscated without being returned back was to be eradicated, as at present these goods were in the custody of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
Sithole urged informal traders to continue affiliating with representative bodies that were recognises by the BCC in order for their development challenges in their workspaces to be adequately addressed. He said some of the criticisms that the local authority was being given was as a result of lack of knowledge by informal traders, saying his department, under which informal traders fell had an open-door policy that they should utilise for any queries.
Mrs. Muringi from the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community Development and Small to Medium Enterprises Development urged informal traders to obtain operating licenses from BCC in order to protect themselves from raids by law enforcement. There were also added benefits of being licensed such as access to financial loans under facilities run by her ministry.
VISET Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Edward Kapodogo said as part of the way forward, they would continue to urge their membership to obtain licenses and hoped the BCC would be able to assist on some of the bottlenecks that traders spoke to such as the difficulties encountered in getting police clearance and proof of residence.