Devolution the best foot forward for informal economy

Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) notes the allocation of USD310 million towards implementation of chapter 14 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Chapter 14 provides for devolution of governmental power and services so that they are as close to the people as possible. Furthermore, it seeks to give more voice to local people on the development of their areas.

It is therefore apparent that as part of the agenda of devolution, economic development of the different provinces is at the centre. Zimbabwe has a dual and enclave economy inherited from the colonial administration. Thus, policies over the years have supported a very lean and elite formal sector while neglecting the informal economy which provides livelihoods for the majority of the population. Consequently, most provinces have been grossly underdeveloped and their inhabitants pauparised.

It is thus an imperative that if this grave situation is to be addressed, the provincial governments must become champions of formalising the informal sector and giving it support.

The informal sector, if well supported, can be the engine to drive economic growth in the local communities under devolution. The centralisation of economic planning and implementation has been the cause of much economic underdevelopment and subsequent curtailed human development across the country.

The statistics of poverty in Zimbabwe are damning evidence of economic neglect and bad policies over the years. 86% of people live on less than USD 1.00 per day while unemployment is above 90%. Therefore, the urgency of devolution cannot be overemphasized, it is critical and should be rapidly implemented to start the long journey of rescuing Zimbabweans from excruciating poverty.

As VISET we therefore give the following proposals to the government and all its agencies:

  1. That the government of Zimbabwe adhere to the spirit and letter of the Constitution as it relates to devolution. Any attempt to give half-baked provisions which are designed to create a modicum of devolved power but still entrenching toxic centralised governance will be rejected more so by those in the informal sector. The Constitution is supreme and must be upheld as such.
  2. That adequate provisions for devolved budgeting be provided for in the devolution legislation. Centralised budgets have been the cause of much citizen economic alienation and impoverishment hence national budget must be guided and informed by provincial developmental needs. The idea of a one size fit all budget has consistently proved to be a failure.
  3. As we have stated above, formalisation of informal sector is key. Therefore, part of the resources earmarked for devolution should be used to reach out and consult stakeholders to build sustainable models for formalisation of the sector.

As VISET we further again underscore our commitment to economic transformation by holistic empowerment of the informal sector. The economy belongs to

Source: Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET)