Business Community Development Social

Informal Economy Matters: An Alliance of Workers in the Informal Economy

Informal economy

Associations representing workers in the informal economy throughout Zimbabwe have formed an alliance under the theme “The Informal Economy Matters”.

The associations under the alliance are the Bulawayo Vendors’ and Traders’ Association (BVTA); Vendors’ Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET); Women Alliance of Business Associations of Zimbabwe (WABAZ); Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA); and the Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders’ Association (ZCBTA).

The objective of the alliance is to obtain recognition of and respect for the informal economy as a key component of Zimbabwe’s national economy and to promote the rights of workers in the informal economy.

In pursuing this objective the alliance has prepared a Declaration on Recognition of, Respect for and Participation of the Informal Economy, which is being released to the public today.

The Declaration specifically calls for:


  • A complete halt to the harassment and criminalisation of informal economy workers such as vendors and trades, and particularly to the destruction of their livelihoods.
  • Partnership with local authorities for the provision of appropriate facilities and trading areas for vendors and traders, that give them access to their customers and markets.
  • Inclusion of representatives of the informal economy in all policy-making bodies where policies affecting the informal economy are made.
  • Development by Government of a national strategy on the informal economy that recognises its economic and social importance to the nation.


In pursuit of this agenda the alliance will be organising stakeholder dialogue forums with invited stakeholders over the next six months, covering seven key themes:


  1. Respect for and Recognition of the Informal Economy.
  2. Development of Linkages between the Informal Economy and Formal Business.
  • Market Access and Infrastructure.
  1. Financial Inclusion.
  2. Social Protection.
  • Devolution


The objective of these forums will be, through dialogue and mutual understanding among key stakeholders, to develop an overall and comprehensive national policy framework on the informal economy for submission to Government.


The alliance is also working with the International Labour Organisation on formalisation and decent work, including the issues of violence and harassment in the work-place.   The President of ZCIEA, Ms Lorraine Ndlovu, who is also the President of StreetNet International, addressed the Plenary of the 108th Session of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva on 14 June 2019 where she reiterated that the informal economy must be respected in the work it does in strengthening national economies.   She also emphasised that the problem of violence and harassment in the workplace has particular application to informal economy workers, whose workplace is frequently the street or an open market.   StreetNet International represents over half a million street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers organised in 52 affiliate organisations in 48 countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Eastern Europe.


The Convention concerning the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work was adopted at this Session by 439 votes to 7.   The Zimbabwean Government delegation voted in support of the Convention, which clearly states that it applies to both the informal and informal economies.


The informal economy has two major statements to make:


“The informal economy must be at the table, not on the table”


“Nothing for us without us”.


About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende