01 May 2020
Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) today joins Zimbabwe and the whole world in commemorating the struggles and victories of workers worldwide. The International Workers Day is being celebrated on a different note, whereby the world has been struck by a pandemic, the corona virus. As a result, Zimbabwe and most countries are under lockdown as a way of trying to contain the spread of the virus.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), more than 1.6 billion people worldwide work in the informal economy in jobs that are characterized by a lack of basic protection, including social protection coverage. The informal economy players often have poor access to health-care services and have no income replacement in case of sickness or lock-down. Many of them have no possibility to work remotely from home. Staying home means losing their jobs, and without wages, they cannot eat. The Labour organisation has warned that the continued sharp decline in working hours globally as a result of the pandemic means that 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy are in danger of losing their livelihoods.
BVTA notes with concern that closer to home there has been wanton destruction of informal economy workers work spaces, without due of proper alternative relocation sites.
We implore local authorities to ensure wider consultation on the proposed lockdown and post lockdown guidelines on the operation of informal economy workers and adoption of Inclusive City Designing and Planning prototypes that have been proposed by Associations.
In light of these challenges, BVTA notes that informal economy workers have embraced the new reality of doing business online.
BVTA calls for internet service providers to consider data holidays during #COVID19 induced lockdown, this can also apply to loyal clients who have been connected for a period of time, or at least reduce cost of data since there is increased data update in informal workers’ business transactions.
BVTA is committed to augment informal workers by scaling up Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) literacy skills to the informal sector as the organization has been running a pilot initiative since 2017.
BVTA sympathises with vendors and informal traders in Zimbabwe that were affected by the lockdown, resulting in failure to get income and to fend for their families.
Informal traders have since been promised a lockdown cushioning fund from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Informal sector associations were asked to compile a list of members of their associations for submission to the ministry provincial offices at the beginning of April, 2020.
We are disappointed that the month has ended and nothing has been received from the Ministry, although it keeps on making promises that a package is being worked out.
As BVTA, we reiterate our call for government to urgently fulfil its pledge and revise upwards the proposed amount of 200RTGS as it has been eroded by the hyper inflationary environment.
We continue to encourage informal workers to take caution in protecting themselves and their families against COVID-19 through practising recommended hygienic measures which include using sanitisers, washing of hands regularly and putting on face masks as well as maintaining social distance.
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