Lockdown: Counting the loses as informal market writhes in agony

  • Harare suffering from loss of informal trading
  • Going to be difficult for informal sector to resurrect from fall

IN Harare, in such places around Mbare such as Siyaso, Magaba, Mupedzanhamo and Mbare Musika, which are the drivers of Zimbabwe’s economic activity, the impact of COVID-19 lockdown there cannot be fathomed.

Though Mbare is generally looked down upon, it is the place where huge sums of money are transacted on a daily basis.

The 21-day lockdown which was, however, announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has not given respite to how business operates there, in the process affecting the incomes of many families.

Mupedzanhamo Flea Market has lived up to its expectations, having birthed millionaires who are now running large businesses in Harare and other cities around the country, who started off as small traders.

Located in Mbare, the flea market which has become a household name for the country since opening to business in the 1990s, has brought hope and a way of making an honest living to astute business people.

Harare City Council realises an average of $104 000 a month from the flea market.

It is anticipated that more revenue would be realised once Mupedzanhamo Flea Market is converted to a daily payment venture.

But during this lockdown era, traders at Mupedzanhamo are counting their losses from not operating, something which has left many of them in a catch 22, with many burning inside to get back to work.

Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation director Samuel Mangoma said the lockdown had affected many informal traders in terms of revenue collection as most of them subsisted from hand-to-mouth.

“The lockdown has affected most of our members because most of them survive from hand-to-mouth,” Mangoma said.

He also said the revenue realised at informal trade points also benefited government, adding there was need to cushion traders there as it would be difficult for them to come back to profitability once the 21-day lockdown is over.

“We have been reading in newspapers that other countries are cushioning the vulnerable, so our government should also do the same as it will be difficult for affected traders to come back to work after the lockdown,” Mangoma said.

Emmanuel Mahachi, secretary for Youth Affairs, DCC 6 in Zanu PF, said players in the informal market should try to readjust their expenditure patterns during this period.

“This pandemic has affected the whole world, and we as a country we live in a global village and the pandemic has also affected us. I urge our informal traders to reduce on expenditure as most of them do not have enough savings to survive the 21-day designated mark.

Government should also try and help those in the informal market recover and come back to profitability after the lockdown,” Mahachi said.