Response to Minister Nyoni’s comments on the Informal Sector Cushioning Fund

Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) notes with concern comments attributed to the Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and medium Enterprise Development Hon Sithembiso Nyoni as reported in The Chronicle of 3 June 2020. The Minister is quoted as having implored small to medium enterprises to formalize their operations in order to access assistance of the $500 million fund from the government.

We at VISET find it odd that from all accounts and seemingly even from the minister, not even a single Informal Sector player has managed to access these funds. We also feel it is duplicity of the highest order that the minister seems to introduce a new requirement for individuals to be eligible for the much-touted cushioning allowance. When it was announced by President Mnangagwa and in subsequent pronouncements by various ministers including those of Finance, Social welfare and Nyoni herself, it was said that individuals had to register with representative bodies and that funds would be deposited in mobile money accounts. To date, not one individual is in receipt of these funds and now the minister says people should register with the ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. It would appear that those that greeted news of this facility with scepticism were indeed correct.

The minister spoke at length on the need for informal businesses to formalize. It may have skipped the minister’s attention that the greatest business in this country is Informal Trading in particular street vending which essentially is a subsistence form of living many have resorted to as a means of survival, owing to the poor form of the economy. Expecting vendors to ‘formalize’ through paying of taxes is the height of insensitivity given the current hardships and that vendors are already paying tax through the 2 percent transaction levy.

We urge the Government to be sincere and walk the talk on the COVID-19 alleviation measures and not seek to over burden the long-suffering informal traders and street vendors.

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