The Covid -19 pandemic negatively affected the day to day activities of women in Zimbabwe’s informal cross border operations.
Speaking to The Herald during an interface workshop at the Zimbabwe Women Bureau training centre, female cross border traders lamented that Covid -19 had impacted negatively on their livelihoods. Cross border trading business depends on travelling across countries to buy and sell different products, but because of lockdown restrictions across the globe, borders were closed.
Tamisai Katini-Zivanai, a chairperson of Garikai fruit and vegetables (Chitima) market who buys and sells clothes said the closure of the borders resulted in them not being able to access products.
“We ended up using the profits we had saved over the past six months as we had no other source of livelihood,” she said.
The informal cross borders argued that Covid -19 negatively changed their way of living.
Another cross border, Eunice Mapaike from Hatcliffe, who sells groceries which she buys from South Africa highlighted that when Covid -19 started, business deteriorated rapidly. She said people did not have enough money to buy the groceries.
“I am using some of the profits to pay for my children’s school fees. Even when the borders open, I will not have capital to continue with my business,” she said.
The informal cross border traders noted that it had become difficult to get credit lines.
“Some money lending companies cannot give us money as they are not sure whether we will be able to pay them back. They know that currently our operations are down and will take time to revive them.”
Zivanai, another woman at the meeting also said importing goods through transporters known as malaicha’s was difficult as they charge exorbitant prices.
“The Malaicha’s are not trustworthy and one cannot fully depend on them because anything is possible with them,” said Zivanai.
Mbuya Netsai Mutsvairo who plies her trade in Mozambique reiterated that renewing expired passports was another challenge.
“Their passports expired during the lockdown when the passport offices were closed. The women could not renew them.”
She added that even though the borders reopen on December 1 2020, it will be a challenge for them to get the passports and resume their duties.
The workshop was conducted by Zimbabwe Women’s Bureau to address the concerns of its members in the informal trade , particularly those involved in cross – border trade.