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Being an informal Economy Worker/Trader is still being viewed as Crime in Zimbabwe – ZCIEA Treasurer General bares it all.

by Fungai Munetsi

Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA) is a membership-based organization that has 42 territorial structures around Zimbabwe. The organization educates, represents, empowers, and advocates for informal economy workers and traders’ rights to promote decent living standards for all Zimbabweans in a stable economy. It has more than 278000 across the country.

Givas Maririmba is the current ZCIEA National Treasurer General and is based in Kwekwe. He became a member of the organization during its founding year in 2002. Givas is the eldest son in his family and through the informal trading he is managing to take care of his wife, three children, his mother, his sister and some of his sisters’ children, “ apart from taking care of my wife and children l also take care of my sister’s children here and there if there is a need”. He said he could not have managed to do all this without the guidance and networking from ZCIEA organization.

In a phone interview, Givas revealed that he had high expectations in the new Zimbabwe about the engagement of the informal economy in decision making and the improvement of the film industry. When asked what he does for a living he responded that he is an actor and at the same time a cross border trader. “I am an actor and that is my God-given talent, l produce drama films to sell in the streets and our neighboring country Zambia. Selling discs to Zambia led to my cross border trading business where l could order African print materials for resale in Zimbabwe”.

Mr. Maririmba says he has benefited a lot from ZCIEA including advocacy work for the informal economy. Since he finished school, he never had an opportunity for formal employment. He said he once ran a successful tuckshop business which was suddenly and shockingly destroyed by Operation Murambatsvina in 2005. He added that since then interaction with other ZCIEA members around the country gave him new hope for life and boosted his business of selling African print material.

The actor has produced several dramas including Hondonga, Bingo, Mombe na Machuma, Boterekwa, Unfaithful mother among others. However, he has cited several challenges arising in the film industry which includes piracy. He says this brings down their business and wish the new government will put stringent laws to deal with this piracy issue. Mr. Maririmba expressed concern over having only one TV station in Zimbabwe which makes it hard for their drama to be broadcasted in the live television. He added that Zimbabwe has a great talent in the film industry but because of lack of resources to broadcast most of them are ailing in poverty. “My major hopes in the film industry is that the government should incorporate or open other TV stations just like Zambia which has 8 TV stations to cater for most of our filmmakers because after producing several films the filmmakers still suffer in abject poverty”

In his cross border business he said that the government should design policies which are conducive in doing smart business without corruption. He said this citing challenges that they face at the border when trying to bring in their orders, “at the border, they do not allow you to cross if you have more than four items of the same product which forces some people to resort to bribes”.

Mr. Maririmba suggested that if the government consult the affected people, that is, the one in the informal sector will come up with policies that will enable both the government and the informal sector to work with each other in peace and development. This has always been said by ZCIEA leaders on the social dialogue with local authorities where they call for the inclusion of informal workers in discussions that concerns them. This is where the theme #NothingForUsWithoutUs came from.

Mr. Maririmba is one of the informal economy traders that have been hit hard by the ongoing national lockdown. Mr. Maririmba, like many informal economy traders, was caught off guard by the national lockdown meant to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Informal economy traders’ structures in Kwekwe were demolished and now they are struggling to feed themselves and their families. Mr. Maririmba urged the local authorities and government to consult informal economy workers and traders and
relevant stakeholders before making a decision that affects them.

Informal Economy is now the Economy in Zimbabwe, that is where the majority of workers are, destroying their livelihood source is not the best decision. Instead, the government should create a conducive working environment to promote formalization of the informal economy”, said Mr. Maririmba There is an urgent need for governments to establish fool-proof,
corruption-free, realistic and sustainable social protection safety nets for
informal economy workers to preserve their human dignity during these
tough times. Such measures should not only be put in place to combat the
effects of COVID-19 but for the sustainable future as the world works towards formalization of the informal economy and elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work






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