As 2018 draws to a close, Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) declares this year to be the worst since the 2008 crisis. It has been characterised by complex crises in the political, economic and social spheres.
In the political sphere, VISET notes that the entrenchment of the military in governance affairs following the November 2017 military coup continues to be the elephant in the room. We witnessed the deployment of the military in the streets of all cities and towns to forcefully remove our members operating from the so-called undesignated vending stalls. Our members lost wares worthy thousands of dollars during the heartless and unconstitutional crackdown on street vendors and informal traders. Furthermore, the July 30 polls, which fell short of international standards, failed dismally to unite the nation resulting in a contested presidential election outcome which continue to haunt the political architecture of the country.
The unfortunate killing of civilians by soldiers on 1 August 2018 summarises the crisis facing the country, precisely that of respecting the rights of citizens.
On the economic front, informalisation of the economy continues unabated while the government’s approach to addressing the issue of formalising this sector remains lukewarm. In fact, the government seems much more eager to maintain a legislative and policy framework which illegalises informal sector operations. The paradox is that the government introduced the much contested 2% Intermediary Tax on all electronic transactions. This tax basically targets the informal sector which rely heavily on mobile money transactions and other electronic payment platforms.
In general, the rest of the economy is in free fall, headlined by shortages of essential goods, fuel, cash and high inflation.
The social front is no better with a devastating cholera outbreak having hit the capital city, Harare, in the last quarter of the year claiming over 50 lives. Hospitals are without basic drugs while major towns and cities lack basic chemicals for water treatment heightening fears of another cholera outbreak. Education is also facing total collapse with most schools hiking fees while teachers are restive due to poor remuneration and working conditions.
In all these crises, the government’s approach is not encouraging and betrays lack of concern for the ordinary people who are suffering. As VISET we note that it is the 95% of people in the informal sector who are bearing the burden of the economic collapse by bearing the heavy tax burden.
As we go into 2019, as an organisation we declare our commitment to continue working towards the transformation of the informal economy and ensure inclusive and sustainable economic growth for all. Furthermore, and more importantly, the organisation shall continue to work towards the upholding and protection of the rights of our members as enshrined in the constitution of Zimbabwe. We further declare our readiness to collaborate and cooperate with other like-minded organisations to push for the resolution of the national crisis.
At VISET we are guided by the dictum that, nothing can be christened to be for us without us, so as we venture into the new year, we call upon the Government of Zimbabwe and all its agencies to abandon piecemeal engagement strategies.
In 2019 we want to be truly consulted on issues that affect us, in 2019 we want to see the total eradication of corruption and human rights abuses as they relate to the informal economy. In short, we want a new way of doing things, the RIGHT way!!!
In conclusion, VISET would like thank our partners and all who have supported our endeavours thus far. Most importantly, we salute our Socio-Economic Champions (SOCHAMPS) structures in all the four corners of the country. Our message as we enter 2019 is that, you are truly the Economic Emancipation Heroes and Heroines of this generation. The year 2019 is ours to shine. So, rise, grab the bull by its horns and shine!!!
Source: Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET)