Speedily regularise informal sector
THE decisive action being taken by the police and Harare City Council to clean up the city of informal traders and other vices is most welcome.
But while this move is a step in the right direction, it is also important not to ignore the fact that Zimbabwe has a significant number of unemployed people whose livelihood is solely dependent on the informal sector.
Indeed, there are several thousands of Zimbabweans who earn a living as flea market operators, tuck shop operators, furniture makers, vegetable, curio and flower vendors.
We strongly believe that there is now need to move with speed to regularise the operations of such traders who, as the Government has openly acknowledged, are an important factor in our economy.
With quite a significant number of people not formally employed, nurturing and developing small businesses provides a grassroots solution to the problem of joblessness.
Many people are in full support of the move to rid the city of illegal traders, beggars and vagrants. However, the need for the authorities to find a permanent solution to the problem cannot be over-emphasised.
Government has described the influx of informal traders into the city centre as a reflection of lawlessness.
And we all concur that the movement of informal traders into the central business district (CBD) had become uncontrolled and unchecked.
This surge of illegal traders has resulted in a marked rise and spread of such vices as illegal foreign currency trading, drug trafficking and prostitution.
Many agree with the Government when it lamented the appalling deterioration of Harare’s CBD, and how informal traders were disrupting traffic and pedestrian move- ment.
Noted the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development, Dr Ignatius Chombo: "There has been increased risk of exposing the general public to thievery, physical and verbal abuse from touts, street dwellers and unscrupulous traders of no fixed abode.’’
But with Harare now looking cleaner, there is need by the authorities to urgently ensure that informal traders are registered and allocated sites to operate from.
In most economies the world over, particularly in developing countries, small enterprises have absorbed the majority of the unemployed.
The Government recognises this and wants registered traders to be organised and operate within the confines of the laws of the country.
The Minister of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development, Cde Sithembiso Nyoni, has said sites on which informal traders will operate from have been identified.
It is our utmost hope that Cde Nyoni’s pledge will be implemented and we call upon the concerned authorities to expeditiously vet all the affected parties and let licenced individuals return to designated stalls and buildings.
Individual traders who will be allocated places to operate from must stick to their core business and desist from engaging in illegitimate business dealings.
There is no doubt that once regularised, informal trading will help boost the ongoing economic turnaround efforts.
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