We are two weeks into the lockdown and most families are feeling the heat. January is usually a hard month financially even for those who are formally employed, it is especially hard on those who work in the informal sector as people have little disposable income to spend on their wares. With the coronavirus still raging those in the informal sector are now facing the real risk of starvation. This has prompted some to risk coronavirus and clashes with the police by going to places like Mbare Musika to sell their wares.
Although not crowded, as usual, there is still a steady stream of people coming to buy vegetables as farmers are allowed to operate. Other vendors even those who don’t sell food and essentials have also been going there to sell groceries and second-hand clothes known colloquially as “bales”. Informal industries located at Siyaso in Mbare have also been operating despite the government ban on all informal sector activity. This has led to running battles with the police who have been using teargas to try and disperse vendors. The vendors only disappear for a few minutes before making a comeback.
Police at Mbare Musika today fired teargas to disperse the crowds of vendors and other informal sector workers. The ZRP, working with the Hre Municipal Police, arrested dozens of pedestrians.
The informal sector, which is the source of income for the majority of Zimbos, has been hard hit by the lockdown. With no govt support grant, informal sector workers are risking it all to continue operating. We urge govt to provide social grants.Zimbabwe Peace Project on Twitter
While a lot of people are concerned about the rise in deaths and cases a lot more sympathise with vendors. They say the government should at least them allow to operate as they are not providing them with the financial support they need for them to stay home.
We are the hardest hit by the lockdown since we live on hand to mouth. Without selling our wares it has not been easy to put food on the tables. Some of our members have been evicted by their landlords for failing to pay rent.
Some of the vendors including women have been forced to defy the lockdown but their attempts have been met with brute force by the police. brutality. No social security funds have been availed to us, leaving us desperate and vulnerable.The Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Association
This time around the government and its Finance Minister have not even bothered to talk about grants and relief. They only focused on the locking down aspect of things and ordered the informal sector (the largest sector in the economy) to shutdown. Parts of the informal sector such as kombis have been banned for almost a year. Those who operate such businesses have been left stranded as the government seems uninterested in their plight.