ZIMBABWEAN and South African informal and cross-border traders on Tuesday met the South African Small Business Development minister, Lindiwe Zulu and the Zimbabwean ambassador to that country, Isaac Moyo, to discuss challenges the sector is facing.
By KHANYILE MLOTSHWA
Zimbabwe Community in South Africa chairperson, Ngqabutho Mabhena told Southern Eye that there were three groups that travelled from Zimbabwe to join his association in the meeting with the two government officials in Pretoria.
“We had two informal sector organisations from Harare and one from Bulawayo who joined us. We also had informal traders based in South Africa and South African informal sector organisations.
“The dialogue was meant to create a platform for the minister and the ambassador to understand the challenges in the informal sector, particularly on cross-border trade and to seek to find solutions to those challenges,” he said.
Mabhena said the dialogue around the challenges experienced by cross-border traders will, however, continue.
“The two governments are planning to hold an indaba in Beitbridge, jointly hosted by Zimbabwe and South Africa, in order to have a better understanding of the situation as well as proffer solutions,” he said.
Mabhena said most informal and cross-border traders felt that the government of Zimbabwe was letting them down through unfavourable legislation.
“Most people feel the Zimbabwean government is not supporting them following the introduction of Statutory Instrument 164 of 2016. There are also challenges around the banking sector as storing money in the banks was seen as creating inconveniences later when the traders want to access the money,” he said.
Mabhena said the South African government was working on a policy to formalise the informal sector.
“In line with Resolution 204 adopted by the International Labour Organisation in 2015, South Africa is benefitting from the informal trade.
“The challenge, though, is the importation of goods from Asia. Zulu called on people to support local industries by buying goods produced in our region,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s decision to ban the importation of a number of goods through SI 164/16 resulted in violent demonstrations by traders, who argued the government was insensitive to their plight, given the lack of jobs and a stagnated economy.