Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) joins the rest of the working people of Zimbabwe and indeed around the world in commemorating the Workers Day 2019 which is being held under the theme: “We are at Crossroads: Unite, Fight Neo-Liberalism and Austerity.”

As the largest body representing the informal workers, we are solidly behind the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) call to unity and fighting austerity which is being implemented by the government of the day. The Workers Day 2019 come at a time when there is nothing to celebrate because of pauperisation and poverty induced by government policies.

Vendors and other informal workers have come under attack from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), council police and the military at the instruction of policy makers who continue to criminalize the informal sector. It is disheartening to note that at a time when the economy is experiencing severe headwinds characterized by high prices, the State is effectively denying millions of people who depend on the income from the informal sector a livelihood.

Because of high unemployment and deindustrialization 96% of working Zimbabweans are now in the informal sector undertaking a range of economic activities to get livelihoods. It goes without saying the bulk of these are women who use proceeds to buy basic groceries for their families, pay rates and rentals and provide for medical and educational needs for their families. For the State to attack their livelihoods and provide no alternative is as cruel as it is ill thought.

Despite all these hardships, the Workers Day 2019 comes at an opportune time for movements to organise and build solidarity. Now more than ever there is need to build a cross cutting movement of the working people which will include everyone in the informal sector and those few who still have formal jobs. The economic hardships are affecting everyone and demand collective action.

As VISET we will also innovate our programming to encourage solidarity economies so that we cushion our members from the ongoing economic hardships by creating revolving funds that can be availed to them for boasting their businesses and also considering a social welfare fund. We are also going push for the inclusion of the informal sector in the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) for it is now beyond doubt that the informal sector has become the economy. The TNF Bill which we gather will be pushed through parliament soon, must capture the hopes and aspirations of the informal sector.

As always, we underscore our commitment to sustainable socio-economic transformation through engagement and on the occasion, we call on authorities to recognize that workers’ rights are human rights and should be respected. We also unequivocally call for an end to the ongoing attackers on vendors trying to eke out a living selling their wares. Such barbarism is misplaced, illegal and retrogressive!

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