Obert Chifamba Manicaland Bureau
THE National Social Security Authority (NSSA) should go beyond just extending their social security scheme to the informal sector and provide infrastructure, particularly markets, from which the people in the sector can work safely, Government has said. Addressing guests attending the Informal Sector Social Security Scheme in Zimbabwe: Mutare All Stakeholders Engagement Meeting in Mutare last Friday, Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs, Cde Mandi Chimene said NSSA’s scheme should go beyond catering for the people’s social security upon retirement or loss of employment, but take care of their welfare during their productive years.
“I want NSSA to establish a proper market for all these people doing various jobs in the informal sector. They are doing their work from the streets, yet they are the ones who are pushing the economy as we speak. Statistics show that 94, 5 percent of Zimbabweans are now earning their living from the informal sector, so they need to be appreciated and given the proper environment from which to operate. We have stripped these people of their dignity when we condemn them to selling from pavements, where they are constantly harassed by police and council personnel.
“They are also at the mercy of weather elements yet they are the people making the country’s economy tick,” said Minister Chimene. Cde Chimene challenged NSSA to invest its savings in building a good and big market for the informal sector and then collect taxes from them every month to recoup their money.
“There should be a bank also set aside for the small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) sector, where they can bank and borrow. At the moment the bigger chunk of the country’s money is doing rounds in the informal sector, so the question we should asking ourselves is, ‘how do we get that cash into the banks and make the economy liquid?’
“Look at countries like China. China was a very poor country, but today it is the second biggest economy in the world thanks to the contribution of their informal sector. They have built very big markets where people in the informal sector conduct their business safely, making a lot of money. That money is vital in the building of any economy. Our informal sector has for many years been bringing a lot of money into the country from outside through trade, so it needs a partner like NSSA to guarantee them a stable future too,” said Minister Chimene. She also challenged council to make available land for the construction of the proposed market for the informal sector.
“Council must learn to utilise space. We know there are a lot of derelict buildings in the city that are no longer being used — why not pull those down and let the space be used for noble projects such as the one we are talking about here. There is also that old chicken market, which has been there since we were small children and has never been rehabilitated for the better, yet our informal sector people use it and even pay levies to council. Why not give it up for a better structure that can house all these informal sector players and council can still collect its levies daily, weekly or monthly?” Cde Chimene queried, much to the applause of the guests.