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Informal traders demand accountable tax utilization by the central government

Women informal traders have proposed the crafting of a national vendor policy, accountable tax utilization and a pension fund ahead of the National Budget Hearings earmarked for 12-16 October 2020 across the country.

Women informal traders in Bulawayo brought to light varied concerns relating to the 2021 National Budget during a dialogue that was facilitated by Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) which gave them a platform to discuss major priorities.

It emerged that there is lack of proper vending bays which makes their trade unprofitable as they often lose most their wares to municipal police who raid their merchandise. Women implored the government to allocate devolution funds towards the improvement of vending spaces.

“The Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and Housing should conduct an infrastructural audit in order to repossess land that has not been developed over years and allow traders to use space for their productive activities,” said one of the informal traders present for the dialogue.

“There is so much idle land that is lying around without any use. As vendors when we go to inquire about it, we are told that the land has ownership and we cannot use it. You realize that the land has not been used for quite some time but as vendors, we have limited space to operate from,” said Nomalanga Nyoni.

Pretty Mpofu, a woman who is an informal trader called for the provision of proper ablution facilities and resting places for informal cross border traders who pay exorbitant amounts in import duties.

“As informal cross border traders, we pay so much in import duties and other tariffs. We also expect that the government should use that tax money towards constructing safe restrooms and proper ablution facilities.

“Women are not safe when they go to neighbouring South Africa to buy goods for reselling because they sleep in undesignated places where they are prone to attack,” she said.

There was apprehension over lack of representative bodies that encourage women, informal traders, to air out their grievances. Informal traders called for the creation of bodies that will take their matters to the responsible authorities.

Sakhile Siwela said: “We call for the formation of a board that will represent us as vendors. This is where we are going to be airing all of our problems because if we go alone nothing gets solved. For example, if you go to the City Council, we are told to go from one office to another but if you go to a representative, they will stand in on our behalf and some of our issues might be attended to better.”

Siwela added: “We also need social security, because we are going to work all our lives but at the end of it all we will not be getting anything back in the following years. If a form of pension for vendors could be created for us so that we know that we will not work for nothing at the end of it all.”

Women further called on the government to prepare their budget using United States Dollars (USD), stating that it is a stable currency that would help them make long term budgets.

“We are calling on the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to make the budget and quote using the USD so that the economy is stabilized. For us traders it is very hard to operate in an economic environment that is not stable because we often run loses so we ask the government to make a budget in foreign currency because it won’t be eroded by inflation,” said Jacqueline Ndlovu.

Thembelani Dube urged women to prioritize budget tracking in order for them to evaluate whether or not their contributions were being included in the budget.

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