We, the associations listed below, representing informal economy businesses and workers throughout Zimbabwe, declare as follows:
• The informal economy in Zimbabwe contributes 40% of the total economy. In addition, it employs over 90% of the available Zimbabwe workforce. Nearly two-thirds of the people working in the informal economy are women. It is, therefore, a major contributor to national economic development.
• Section 24 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe protects the rights of all Zimbabweans to work in a freely chosen activity, in order to secure a decent living for themselves and their families.
• Workers in the informal economy are Zimbabweans seeking to make a living or simply survive in a harsh economic environment.
• Recommendation R204 of the International Labour Organisation, on Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy, adopted in Geneva at the 104th ILC session on 12 June 2015, calls on all member states to pay particular attention to the needs and circumstances of those in the informal economy and their families, and to progressively extend, in law and practice, to all workers in the informal economy, social security and decent working conditions. In this context we call upon all political and business leaders in Zimbabwe to demonstrate their respect for and recognition of the informal economy in the following ways:
• A complete halt to the harassment and criminalization of informal economy workers such as vendors and traders, and particularly to the destruction of their livelihoods.
• The provision by local authorities of appropriate facilities and trading areas for vendors and traders that provide them with ready 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.
Specifically, we call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to create a separate Ministry with responsibility for the development and implementation of policy on the informal economy and its transition to formality. We urge all political parties to develop detailed policies on the informal economy for inclusion in their political platforms and manifestos.
We urge all local authorities to establish informal economy committees that will include representatives of the informal economy. We urge all business organisations to recognise the informal economy as a partner in the national economy and to encourage their members to include informal economy businesses in their value chains and business strategies, in order to develop essential linkages between informal and formal businesses. We urge the Government of Zimbabwe to avoid taking actions against informal economy workers that result in loss of property and loss of livelihoods, but rather to promote their well-being in terms of ILO Recommendation 204.
Finally we urge all Zimbabweans in positions of leadership, whether in politics, business or local communities, to demonstrate leadership by co-operating and working together to resolve the critical economic issues facing the nation. This is a time for unity of purpose and recognition that all Zimbabweans are facing hardships, but it is the poor who have the greatest need and who require the greatest concern for their future well-being.