The informal sector is one of the fastest growing industries in Zimbabwe. The COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the socio-economic hardships bedevilling the country resulted in an influx of ordinary citizens in the informal sector as a form of livelihood.
The rapid expansion of the informal industry is fuelling clashes between traders and local authority enforcement agencies. Feuds are mainly over trade in undesignated spaces, payment of rates, and general decrease in standards of service in designated areas or market places. Citizens are now selling along roadsides, in their cars and everywhere, disregarding basic public health and safety regulations.
Kariba, just like many other towns and cities across the country, has been facing a shortage in trading spaces as a result of the growth in the informal sector. Vendors in the town have called upon the local authority to consider opening up new spaces and regularising the operations of vendors and informal traders in their locality.
Kariba Vendors and Traders Association chairperson Mr. Lloyd Matambo bemoaned the lack of adequate operational spaces which is adversely affecting their businesses.
“There is inadequate space for vendors and traders to carry out their business,” Matambo said. “There is very limited space in Kariba prompting individuals to conduct businesses at road sides. However, this again poses conflicts with the local law enforcement agencies and also affects businesses.”
Matambo urged the local authority to create more spaces, provide proper ablution facilities, water to enable vendors and traders to conduct business since this industry employs a huge number of people.
Another female trader in the District explained that some vendors are selling their goods on pavements, roadsides, at cheaper prices pushing legal vendors who pay annual fees to the local authority out of business.
Several calls have been made to the government to formalise the informal sector, a move that has the potential to boost revenue collection. However, nothing has been done yet and informal traders and vendors continue to face a myriad of challenges while trying to earn a living.