First Paper: Devolving Doing Business Reforms Policy Paper Launch (Online Webinar 26 February 2021)
On the 26th of February, Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) launched a paper entitled 'Devolving Doing Business Reforms'. The paper highlighted the challenges and barriers to growth and formalization of SMEs and the informal economy, despite them playing a pivotal role in the development of the Zimbabwean economy, particularly over the last decade. The introduction of provincial councils, along with the already existing local authorities, in keeping with the devolution principle must be equipped with authority, resources and responsibility to carry out their mandates at local level and how empowering SMEs and informal traders can help in formalizing operations of these entities, ensuring their growth. The paper also seeks to incentivize rather than mere regulation of SMEs and removal of impediments to doing business formally. This can be achieved through the devolution mapping of policy direction that local provincial governments can take in the process of devolution under the Ease of Doing Business Reforms to harness the potential of the informal economy fully.
Disruptions to the global, regional and national economies has led to an increase in the socio economic vulnerability of the population in developing countries. This, coupled with dwindling formal employment opportunities has driven many into the informal economy. In Zimbabwe despite the informal economy boasting of large numbers it has experienced stunted growth due to it's inability to formalize. Factors militating against formalization have largely been the centralization of economic governance and the view by local provincial governments of the informal sector as being illegal, despite the sector accounting for over 94percent employment and over 50 percent of the country's G.D.P. Many countries the world over have embraced Ease of Doing Business Reforms by enabling SMEs and the informal sector to operate more efficiently and effectively. In Zimbabwe, devolution principles enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe are still to be operationalized fully. Under the provision, provincial councils and local authorities become enablers of the potential of SMEs and informal sector in their jurisdiction.
The paper undertook a SWOT analysis of Zimbabwe's Informal Economy, which summarized as follows:
- Strengths: Strong social capital, small workforce
- Weaknesses: Low technical competence, capacity to raise capital
- Opportunities: Youthful population, technological innovation.
- Threats: Corrupt tendencies, volatile economic environment.
- The following were identified as being critical policy measures to improve ease of doing business:
- Promote regulatory reform
- Improve delivery of business services
- Simplify Business Administration processes
- Simplify Tax Administration
- Simplify Business Registration and Licensing.
In conclusion, recommendations from this paper will be used to engage and lobby relevant solution holders to ensure that local provincial governments and local authorities empower SMEs and informal traders by easing their ability to formalize their operations through empowering them with business opportunities and that bureaucratic red tape is cut from key processes such as licensing and that the Devolution principle as enshrined in the Constitution is implemented.
Second Paper: Making the TNF (Tripartite Negotiation Forum) More Inclusive Research Paper (Online Webinar 5 March 2021)
Vendors Initiative for social and economic Transformation (VISET) on the 5th of March hosted an online webinar from 10am-11am with the purpose of launching the paper titled "Making the TNF More Inclusive". The meeting was attended by respective delegates from various organizations we partner with such as BVTA, WABAZ, ZCIEA and ZCBTA. The online started with the presentation of the paper's outline which comprised of the rationale of the paper, the structure, the Burgeoning Informal Economy, Conceptualizing Social Dialogue and Tripartism, Social Dialogue and Tripartism in Zimbabwe and lastly the alternatives and recommendations. The paper's objectives were simplistically explained as the paper seeked to provide an analysis of the political economy on Zimbabwe and how it both negatively and positively influence engagement with the informal sector as the research was done by Maureen Sigauke. The paper also unpacked by way of scrutiny how the informal sector has been intergrated in all dialogue processes. It also shaded more light on understanding of social dialogues and tripartism.
The paper also highlighted the needy for alternatives that can be considered to ensure that the tripartite negotiation platforms are sensitive and inclusive to the various players in the informal economy and their respective wants and needs. A brief background on the informal economy was shared by the presenters, history dating back from the pre colonial, colonial and post colonial eras, unpacking the importance of the informal economy when it comes to the issues of development and sustainability of livelihoods for those who are not employed in the formal sector.
It was highly noted that the informal sector is a of paramount importance because globally around 2 billion people rely on it and particularly Zimbabwean economy is being moved forward by the informal sector. Poverty risk was also highlighted in the online discussion and presentation and it unpacked the plight of women as they are experiencing inequalities in the informal sector. Evidence was shown on the gendered nature of these inequalities as men are predominant and they earn more money than women, plus women also do unpaid labour as compared to men due to patriarchal ideologies and a lack of inclusiveness.
All these tried to explain the fact that the informal sector players are not a homogeneous group, their heterogeneous nature and hierarchical structuring of the informal sector means that different players of the sector have different needs. To correct these disparities, in the online discussion and presentation, presenters and participants reported that there is needy for formalizing the informal economy which simply refers to all processes involved in restructuring the informal economy into a sector that is linked to the macro economy by way of policies, regulation and actions that support sustainable growth and development so as the alleviate poverty.
In the online discussion recognition of devout consortium of organizations such as Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET), Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA), Women Alliance of Business Associations of Zimbabwe (WABAZ), Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders Association (ZCBTA) and the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA) stipulated that they are committed and willing to contribute to the growth and development of Zimbabwe.
Source: Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET)