VENDORS have called on the government to set up social security nets that will ensure that they are able to meet their daily needs as local authorities are pushing for the closure of informal markets in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
This comes as local authorities in partnership with the government are intensifying their efforts to mitigate against the spread of the virus which has claimed one life from the three confirmed cases recorded so far in Zimbabwe.
Vendors Initiative for Social Economic Transformation’s (Viset) executive director Samuel Wadzai said cracking down on informal traders and street vendors without providing social security nets will result in more families facing starvation as the country already has a high number of people who are food-insecure.
According to the United Nations (UN), over 8 million people in Zimbabwe are facing hunger due to the effects of climate change and worsening economic conditions.
“Due to the economic conditions we have been facing as a nation, the economy has become so informal and we can’t ignore the existence of street vending and how it has helped people particularly, the vulnerable and unemployed survive.
“The majority of our members literally survive through hand to mouth, therefore all Covid-19 containment measures and restrictions that hinder our ability to make a living, must be supported by an inclusive and comprehensive financial or material support to the vulnerable of our society, including informal traders and street vendors,” Wadzai said.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), over 80 percent of the country’s economy is informal.
Wadzai further called on the government to ensure that comprehensive support schemes for the vulnerable are put in place.
“We understand the seriousness of the coronavirus and the need to take preventative measures, but we also call upon, the authorities to ensure that these measures be enforced in an orderly and peaceful manner.
“We remain committed to work with all the relevant stakeholders in ensuring that we collectively limit the further spread of this deadly virus,” he said.
He added that on their part, Viset will soon launch a comprehensive informal sector response plan to help in ending the spread of coronavirus in the country.
“The comprehensive informal sector response plan which will include reaching out to the right sectors and partners, engaging health professionals and communities, supporting and sharing information in a transparent manner to facilitate knowledge and action.
“Our leadership structures throughout the country will play a key role in ensuring that the plan is understood by everyone and that it is implemented for the benefit of our members and all players in the informal economy,” Wadzai said.
Meanwhile, Public Service minister Paul Mavima said the government, through the Ad Hoc inter-ministerial task force, is working towards ensuring that social safety nets are provided for the vulnerable.
“The government has set up a taskforce which is responsible for mobilising domestic and international financial resources to adequately respond to the outbreak. These resources will also cater for the social security nets for the vulnerable,” Mavima said.