THE Zimbabwe Informal Sectors’ Organisation (Ziso) has previously warned of an impending Operation Murambatsvina part two.
This warning has been validated by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo’s continued call for the ruthless removal of vendors and other informal traders from the streets.
This thinking is informed by deep-seated paranoia within Zanu PF. The Zanu PF government is well aware and afraid of the swelling numbers in the streets of Harare and other cities.
The overwhelming swell of vendors in the capital is a reflection of the government’s dismal failure to create the employment, which they promised during their 2013 electoral campaign.
Further, industry has continued to decline, exacerbated by the acute liquidity crunch and lack of investor confidence.
Ziso states categorically that it is not the fault of the vendors that they find themselves in streets.
They are in the streets because of the government’s failure to create jobs and provide other viable economic opportunities.
Ziso believes that the government should not embark on another Murambatsvina that will result in a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic proportions.
Instead, the government must take a consultative, human rights-based approach in addressing the issue of vendors in the city.
An extensive all-stakeholder consultation with an active role for the vendors themselves is vital if government is to find a lasting solution to the problem.
Secondly, government must come up with viable alternative sources of livelihood before they destroy the vending that the people have created for themselves.
Ziso fears that brutal removals of the vendors will be met with fierce resistance from the vendors who have no other means of survival and nowhere to go.
In all likelihood, pushing vendors off streets will increase emigration to South Africa, heightening already fever-pitch xenophobic issues.
The government must not abdicate its constitutional responsibility to create employment, revive industry, and attract investor confidence and liquidity boom.
It is unacceptable for the government to punish vendors for the failures, which squarely rest on the government.
It is ironic that the government seeks to rely on outdated colonial laws to remove its own people from their sources of livelihood.
An all-stakeholder Informal Sector Policy is urgently required to address the following issues:
Transparent, depoliticised, corrupt-proof and well-intended government and business support to facilitate complementarity between the informal sector, government and formal business for purposes of harmonisation and co-existence;
Regulation and legislation tailor-made to the policies that are a product of an all-stakeholders approach. This should also review outdated urban statutes some of which are inherited from the colonial government and no longer applicable to present-day circumstances and objectives;
Incentivising formalisation through relaxation of registration requirements, reduction of registration and operational costs and providing access to bank loans and other fringe benefits that come with formalisation;
The enhancement of community participation in the making of decisions at all stages;
Encourage a sense of ownership and public awareness in the process of urban management;
Co-ordination between national plans and local plans under an inclusive stakeholder approach including civil society and vendors’ representatives, including integration of urban and economic planning;
Appropriate tax regime to produce a win-win situation between the vendors and government. However, vendors insist that they can only afford $1 a day;
Wide and extensive consultations on the establishment of designated sites with the active participation of the vendors themselves with particular focus on identifying strategic areas in terms of viable and sustainable markets;
Creation of the micro–financing strategy to provide access to credit, markets and complete value chains for the vendors and other informal traders; and
Encouraging the vendors to maintain minimum health standards and ensure cleanliness of the areas where they operate.
By the Zimbabwe Informal Sectors’ Organisation