Informal Sector Swallows Bitter Pill

The informal business sector has welcomed the Government’s decision to scale up lockdown measures in the face of increased Covid-19 infections and deaths, but is appealing for concessions, where possible to allow their members to conduct business.

Last Saturday, the Government scaled up lockdown measures which only allow those in essential services to continue operating, albeit under strict supervision.

However, the informal sector doesn’t benefit from these waivers largely due to the difficulties that come with supervising the sector.

This is despite the fact that some of the informal businesses provide essential services while majority of the citizens survive through informal activities such as manufacturing, trading and agriculture.

Zimbabwe is currently grappling with a surge in Covid-19 infections and the latest round of tough lockdown restrictions are aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.

In a statement, the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA) appealed to the Government to consider its members who provide essential services. It appealed for the provision of safety nets for its members, most of whom survive from hand -to-mouth and need to work in the lockdown.

“We believe the lockdown is helping limit the movement of people and therefore reducing the spread of Covid-19,” said ZCIEA.

“However, we have a critical concern on the condition where certain sections have been allowed to trade and all the informal economy sections have been closed.

“We feel informal economy traders have a big bracket of essential services provision at the community level (for example) vegetable market places.

“We also feel that the 30-day lockdown measures should have straight away moved bi-laterally with a social safety net scheme to cushion the most vulnerable in society,” said the lobby group.

Given the size of the informal sector in Africa, the Africa Union said the governments should immediately take measures to support people making a living out of it.

“Supporting the informal sector, not only will it ensure effectiveness of measures to limit the spread of the disease and support household consumption, but it will also limit the risk of social unrest.

“In the medium and long run, African

governments should support the formalisation of informal sector with emphasis on social protection extension to the sector’s workers.

“In the formal sector, employees of airlines and companies involved in tourism will be the most affected, in the event of non-support from the African governments,” said AU.

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