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VISET Independence Day Statement

18 April marks the day when Zimbabwe gained the right to self-determination after a protracted war of liberation.

Today, the country turns a whole 43 years of age and it is a time to take stock of the achievements gained, which are immense in that the first decade saw expansion of access to health, education and professional advancement for the black majority poor. The 90s however saw a significant slowdown in economic growth, largely due to economic policy decisions, that were exacerbated in early 2000s. The exiting of multinational companies saw the expansion of the informal sector that today now dominates all economic activity, accounting for over 80 percent of jobs.

The growth of the informal economy has however not resulted in the betterment of lives of those operating in it, who are the majority. An example is the National Social Security Scheme (NSSA), which to this day only serves the formally employed, who at best stand at just above 10 percent. This has left informal economy operators exposed to all manner of vagaries such as the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of social security safety nets in event of workplace injury or death, and health cover. To top it all off, the running battles and occasional market demolitions, harassment of women with babies are hardly scenes we would expect to see in an Independent nation. It remains a fact that the anchor pieces of legislation such as the Regional Town and Planning Country Act that all municipal by laws are drawn from, were enacted to serve and protect the needs of established businesses, who were all white owned in pre Independence days.

Whilst we join the nation in celebrating the hard work of sons and daughters of the soil in the liberation war, we also take this occasion to appeal to the national and local leadership to hear the concerns that we have long raised that it is time to repeal outdated pieces of legislation that govern local authorities and the informal economy, and instead borrow from the 2013 national constitution that recognises the right to work, and to foster the growth of the sector in order to reap maximum benefit for the national good. We are ready to play our part!

Congratulations, Makorokoto and Amhlope, Zimbabwe @43!

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