Today is International Street Vendors Day and we at the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economi Transformation (VISET) join informal traders across the world in celebrating this important day. This year’s commemoration comes against a backdrop of daily harassment that traders face from law enforcement agencies, in violation of constitutional provisions that guarantee the right to work. VISET believes that the laws governing the informal sector are not fit for purpose and are in need of urgent review in order to give recognition to a sector that now accounts for over 83 percent of employment, over 60 percent of GDP as well as for the majority of money supply in the economy.
Over the past month, traders operating in the Mupedzanhamo area of Mbare have had their marketplaces shutdown and are a struggling to eke a living. Those in Glenview have had their trading places destroyed by fire more than 3 times in a calendar year, highlighting the need for the provision of decent working spaces. Informal sector workers continue to be left out of any government issued social security safety nets, despite the immense role they play in the economy, with at most times government seeking to tax the sector as was seen in the previous budget by Minister Mthuli Ncube when he initiated the presumptive tax for the sector. On the other hand, multinational corporations are granted tax breaks and holidays amongst other incentives, all in the name of being “Open for business”. It is our firm belief that there can be no middle income economy by 2030 for the nation without ensuring that the growth of the sector is put at the front and centre of the nation’s economic policies.