On the 6th of August 2019, Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation [VISET], hosted a Food for Thought Session at Batanai Gardens in Harare. The deliberative engagement session was attended by street traders, cross boarder traders, youths from all walks of life, the media, the academia and representatives from other Civic Society Organizations. The session was presided over by the panelists namely, the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation Executive Director, Mr Samuel Wadzai and the Urban Planner, Mr Obrien Makore. The Food for Though initiative is the brainchild of the United states of America Public Affairs Section whose objectives includes the fostering of a culture of ideas sharing amongst the citizens of Zimbabwe and to create informative, thought-provoking and continuous spaces of engagement for the public
Yesterday’s topic was on “The rise of Informal economy in the face of limited formal employment in Zimbabwe: Challenges and opportunities for Youths”. The meeting started with the panelists unpacking the challenges which are being faced by youth in the informal economy in their day to day endevours and the opportunities which are available for youth informal traders to transform the enterprise into a viable avenue for employment. Informal traders present including those living with disabilities also unpacked the challenges which they are facing with the majority of them bemoaning the scourge of corruption by municipal police officers who are in the habit of demanding bribes, sexual favours in exchange for profitable operating spaces.
In his presentation Samuel Wadzai castigated the exclusion of youth in decision making processes. He added that this exclusion results in the formulation of top-down policies that do not address the specific concerns of the youth. For example, most policies governing the financial sector are not friendly to the informal sector players. To open bank accounts, banks require too much documentation which informal sector players may fail to produce, even if they might have the money to bank. The requirements are mostly a result of policy pronouncements, which makes policy a hindrance to access to bank services by the informal sector players. Wadzai also touched on the issue of the stiff competition which the youth informal traders face from the older players and large-scale companies. Youth street informal traders often experience stiff competition from big economic players.
Both Wadzai and Makore also touched on the issue of poor access to information regarding access to capital. Youth informal traders find it difficult to get information on the available investment funds. Even for those who would have had access to such information, the processing itself is usually too long and characterized by bureaucracy and corruption. Thus, by the time loans were processed some economic opportunities would have been lost
The session ended by the panelists and all participants discussing and stimulating solutions and the way forward. In his closing remarks the VISET Executive Director emphasized, the need for a collective national acceptance of the informal sector as new employer of the youths in the country. He argued that the government of Zimbabwe has continued to lack the political will to align the relevant legislations to the new constitution provisions. Amongst other Socio and Economic Rights; Section 64 of the Constitution states that every person has the right to choose and carry on any profession, trade or occupation, but the practice of a profession, trade or may be regulated by law. As a result, citizens continue to suffer from human rights violations.
Source: Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET)