After weeks of being relegated to the position of being bystanders, the bulk of Zimbabwe’s informal sector got a nod from the President to resume their operations. Measures gazetted under Statutory Instrument 136 of 2020 governs which businesses meet the reopening criteria and how they are going to operate.

What is an informal business according to Zimbabwean law?

““informal trader” means an individual who—
(a) carries on a trade for his or her own account
from which he or she makes a turnover of less
than the amount that would require him or her
to be registered operator for the purposes of the
Value Added Tax Act; and
(b) has not, in the most recent year of assessment
for which he could have done so, furnished a
return in terms of Part V of the Income Tax Act
for the assessment of the income referred to in
paragraph (a);
and, without limiting the generality of paragraph
(a), includes—
(c) a hawker or street vendor; and
(d) a person who sells articles at a place commonly
known as a “people’s market” or a “flea
market”; and
(e) a person who manufactures or processes any
articles in or from residential premises;

The law defines an informal business

The instrument then goes on to specifically exclude kombi operators as well as Malaichas who conduct cross-border trade. This is despite the fact that the government owned entity, ZUPCO, has woefully struggled to ferry passengers to and from CBDs resulting in many people having to walk or get into lorries further increasing their exposure to the coronavirus.