President Emmerson Mnangagwa says the industry remains closed particularly the informal sector which constitutes 80/ 95% of the country’s workforce.
He said this during his national address announcing the extension of the lockdown by further two weeks.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information Nick Mangwana buttressed Mnangagwa’s point saying:
”For the avoidance of doubt, the informal sector remains closed…”
He added that this is with the exception of the agriculture and food supply chain markets.
“All those who are vulnerable should approach the Department of Social Welfare for assistance,” he said.
Meanwhile, a number of analysts have questioned the practicality of the moves.
Some have questioned the need for the vulnerable to register with the department of social welfare to get assistance.
“Everyone is vulnerable at this moment why not just give everyone help not to wait for people to register otherwise those offices will soon be flooded by people and the whole purpose of social distance won’t work,” said one analyst.
Tendai Zinyama concurs says how is the visit to the welfare offices possible taking into account that the movements of people have been blocked.
“All those who are vulnerable which most of them are the informal sectors locked down at home for an additional two weeks must approach the department of social welfare how for assistance since it’s people locked home with no authority to leave home.”
Meanwhile, even the rationale behind the President’s economic rescue 18b stimulus which amounts to 9% of GDP or 20% of the 2020 budget has been questioned.
Mnangagwa said the package will scale up production in all sectors, but analysts are saying the move will not help much, because the industry that Mnangagwa is talking of is less than 5% and the around 95% which is driving the country is the informal sector which is currently closed.
One prominent political analyst had this to say: “If the measures put by the president are meant to benefit 5% of the formal sector, what about the majority who constitute 95% of the informal sector.
“Are these people not providing essential service to Zimbabwe especially in a context of massive unemployment?”
Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate is believed to be above 90%, which has given birth to the informal sector, hence the 90/ 95% informal sector. However, the government has been playing down the rate.
“When the president said industry will be opened between 8am to 3pm, the question being asked by many is: Which industry is there to talk of in Zimbabwe except the informal sector,” said Simon Jecha another analyst.
According to the Informal Traders Association, the informal sector is estimated to be pegged at 85%.
Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) one of the country’s largest vendors unions, in its Workers Day message said the government, policies should be aligned to cushioning the vulnerable not forgetting the informal sector.
“It goes without saying that, after years of disastrous and inconsistent policymaking, the informal sector has become the biggest employer in the Zimbabwean economy,” said VISET.