By Fungai Munetsi

The Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA), in partnership with Women in Informal Employment Globalising and Organising (WIEGO), initiated a study on Informal Trade Regulations by Local Authorities in Plumtree on March 19, 2024. The research, spanning Plumtree and Karoi Territories, involved a scoping visit project focusing on the regulation of informal trade by local authorities in Plumtree Territory from March 19 to March 22, 2024.
The objective was to gain insights into the challenges faced by institutions impacting informal workers. A similar scoping visit will be carried out in Karoi during the second week of April 2024. The project aims to foster better collaboration between street vendors and local authorities to improve their working conditions, revenue contributions, and livelihoods. Throughout the scoping visit, researchers conducted interviews with informal workers at their workplaces/markets and relevant personnel from various local authority departments responsible for interacting with informal economy traders.
The research delved into key areas such as licensing procedures for informal trade, allocation of trading spaces, fee collection, budgeting processes, provision of infrastructure and services, health and safety standards, temporary structure guidelines, enforcement mechanisms, and opportunities for inclusive decision-making and dialogue with traders active in informal employment.
Speaking at the launch of the research in Plumtree, ZCIEA Secretary General Wisborn Malaya expressed gratitude for the positive reception from local authorities towards ZCIEA’s initiatives. He highlighted the strong cooperation from all local authority departments and their eagerness to understand the research outcomes to enhance the conditions of workers and traders in the informal economy.

Mr. Malaya emphasized that the ongoing research conducted in partnership with WIEGO, under the Administrative Justice Program, aims to offer practical and sustainable solutions to end violence and harassment in the world of work and remove the myths surrounding informal economy operations. These solutions are geared towards benefiting both the local authority and the community, aligning with the devolution baseline and focusing on the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) in line with Vision 2030 Agenda, ensuring inclusivity and progress for all.

In response, local authorities in Plumtree raised concerns about informal traders operating from illegal structures, prompting them to seek legal recourse for demolition. However, ZCIEA appealed to the authorities to consider the operations of informal workers and traders as vital livelihood options due to the lack of industrial employment opportunities in Plumtree. The organization stressed the importance of recognizing and supporting informal economy activities as essential elements of the community’s survival and prosperity. If these traders are not allowed to trade, it will also impact the operations of local authorities by potentially leading to a significant loss of revenue. This revenue is crucial for the continued functioning of the local authority, as it is primarily derived from the monthly bills paid by community members engaged in informal trading activities.

‘The Chamber that Delivers’