Thelma Mavangwe is a single mother who sells soft drinks and confectionary products in the Central Business District (CBD) of Harare. This has been her only source of income since the death of her husband in 2015.
With no one to support her in paying tuition fees and groceries for her two children the 21 day lockdown only worsens her situation. By the time the lockdown ends rentals will be knocking on her savings.
“Poverty and humanity go hand in hand. I survive on selling soft drinks and confectionary products in the CBD. However, all is up in smoke after coronavirus struck. The disease through the lockdown has just robbed us of a livelihood,” said Mavangwe
On a good day, she takes home ZWL $100 and the money enables her to buy a breakfast for her children.
“The money that I get on a good day of sales is only able to buy breakfast for my two children. I make an effort to save some of the money so that I pay my rentals,” she narrates
Though she claims to be food sufficient for the mean time her worry is on her source of this month’s rentals.
“At the moment my worry is on rentals, I have no one to support me. I managed to have food that is sufficient during the lockdown hoping that it will be 21 days. Anything beyond that spells doom for me.”
A number of countries across the world are under lockdown to contain the deadly coronavirus in crowded places. For Zimbabweans who survive on selling the lockdown comes as a daunting task.
Josiah Nhekairo a fruit vendor says though the decree is meant to protect citizens his fear is no longer on the disease but the lockdown.
“In as much as the lockdown is to protect people, my fear is no longer on the disease but it is now with the long layoff because it has put my life and that of people I support in danger there is nothing that I can do,” says Nhekairo “We were used to running away from municipal police and we could negotiate but on this one there are no two ways”
The Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal economy Associations secretary general Wisborn Malaya said Covid-19 has brought a hard blow for the informal sector.
“The impact of Covid 19 is too bitter for the informal economy. It is an unfortunate situation that carries life or death, to the extent that hand to mouth livelihoods are given a hard blow at the same time compliance to safety measures is key,” said Malaya “As we speak people (members) of our organisation heed the call for lockdown but now they are now crying every day in request for food support. This is the current headache,”
Malaya said Government plan to cushion the informal sector was a noble idea though there is need to make sure that it reaches true beneficiaries.
“The government’s plans to cushion the sector during this torrid is crucial and most noble. We are participating in the Ministry of Women Affairs and SMES Development process to make sure our members and other informal sector benefit from this scheme.
“However, it seems the scheme is taking too long and there are too many players going on the ground seeking people’s information under the same scheme. Some were even demanding a fee to register people’s names. This now raises a red flag on the transparency of the process,” he said
Malaya added “This is a world disaster cum national disaster such that every key player must be part of the process collectively and united as the President mentioned in his State of the Nation address.
“We feel the cushioning programme should be done using the organised informal sector association’s database. It should be known that not all Informal Economy associations’ data bases are with the local authorities therefore the need for such considerations. The data base must have identity documents, address and contact number for verification process.”
He said the process should be done as quickly as possible because people are already suffering.
Though the government announced to cushion those in the informal sector through providing finances it remains a mystery to people like Mavangwe and Nhekairo as to how they are going to benefit.