Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) conducted an Informal Traders Interface with women who are working in the informal sector to discuss the challenges that impede them from freely generating income despite the lockdown rules. Different challenges and issues were identified as well as the way forward on how to mitigate the stated challenges. These include the following:
Lack of market stalls
Due to the demolishing and displacement of vendors from their usual vending sites at the Central Business District (CBD) to decentralized vending sites that are yet to be established by the City Council was a blow for vendors especially those who used to sell perishable goods. Such products have a disadvantage of rotting as there is no or less suitable place that they can use for selling their perishables. In that light, vendors are in constant fear of suffering from hunger as they are unable to provide for their families.
Closure of Country Borders
The closure of borders has also had an effect on cross border traders as their businesses are currently at a stand-still. Women who are cross border traders cited that they are forced to spend on their surplus so as to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Closure of Khotama Botique
Banning of selling used clothes at a site that was infamously known as “Khotama” is making life for those who were trading a lot more unbearable. Women highlighted that they are not receiving any cushioning or assistance from the government considering the ban from selling second hand clothing items.
Inflating prizes of Basic Commodities
Shop owners continue to inflate prizes of basic commodities, which goes against the government legislation of controlling prizes. Women who are surviving on informal trade cited that purchasing goods is nearly impossible as they are not able to make money, particularly during the nation-wide lockdown.
The government is not recognizing the existence of informal traders in the country as individuals from a sector that is also contributing to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that boosts the economy. This was evidenced during the opening of industry and commerce by the government, yet nothing or less was said concerning the informal sector.
Vendors implored Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to allocate vending sites as a matter of urgency as most businesses are on halt. Women who are informal traders further called on the government to include them when disbursing funds from the cushioning allowance.
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