Tight Covid-19: Informal sector cries foul

PLAYERS in the informal economy sector are crying foul over the latest tightening of Covid-19 lockdown measures and have appealed for increased social protection from the Government.

According to the Ministry of Health and Childcare, Zimbabwe recorded 774 Covid-19 positive cases on Sunday, the highest number of cases per day since the first case was reported in the country in March last year.

The country has now recorded 15 265 cases and 380 deaths.

Formal and non-informal businesses will be suspended starting today in line with strict Covid-19 regulations announced at the weekend by Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga, who is also Minister of Health. Under the regulations, only essential service providers such as hospitals, supermarkets and pharmacies will be open between 8am to 3pm.

While acknowledging the need for collective measures to contain the recent upsurge of Covid-19 positive cases and deaths, as an urgent matter of public interest, the informal sector players have bemoaned minimal provisions for social protection of vulnerable groups like vendors.

“We are concerned that market places have been placed on outright closure. It would have been preferable if licenced traders were allowed to continue operating with strict Covid-19 protocols compliance,” said the traders in a combined statement under the Informal Economy Agenda Coalition.

“It is of concern to the informal sector representative organisations that there are no provisions for social protections for vulnerable groups of people such as members of our organisations.”

The informal traders also said the cushioning fund that was announced by the Government in April last year came very late and did not benefit the majority of members.

“Informal cross-border traders will be badly affected by the new regulations,” reads the statement.

With women making up the majority of informal sector workers, the traders said the female gender would be particularly affected by the regulations, as they will lose their source of income.

“We seek to work with the Government through dialogue to develop win-win solutions for the informal sector in terms of policy and policy implementation, particularly under these lockdown measures,” they said.

As part of efforts to collaborate with authorities, the Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association is said to be actively involved in providing materials such as hand sanitisers, masks and water dispensers for washing hands in over 22 markets in Bulawayo. – Herald

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