Zimbabwe has a very high unemployment rate and it could be higher were it not for the fact that most people are employed in the informal sector where they eke a livelihood. Officials in the Zimbabwean government often happily cite the fact that most people in Zimbabwe are self-employed whenever someone wants to say that the unemployment rate is high in Zimbabwe.
The government has however done everything it can to impede and derail this sector despite it being the largest sector of the economy. In 2019 the IMF concluded that Zimbabwe had the largest informal sector which constituted about 60% of the economy. You can bet it’s higher now than it was in 2019 thanks to COVID and other issues.
Take for example the recent meeting between the RBZ, banks and business community over the spike in rates. The informal sector did not seem like it was represented. They just had a big business making the right noises about committing to not manipulating the rate. The truth is the rate is going to continue to rise because the largest customer on black markets is the informal sector.
Without this sector, the big business community would falter and die. They need to informal sector to supply them with raw materials and help market their product. Companies like Surface Wilmar, Varun Investments and Delta make more sales to informal businesses than any other sector.
The informal sector is a key part of this community and if our economy is to move forward they need to being included instead of banned, demonised, ignored and treated as the enemy. I don’t see our economy improving unless there is a change of attitude towards this sector from the upper echelons of this country.