Women In The Informal Business Sector Hit Hard By Corruption

WOMEN in the informal business sector are vulnerable to corrupt activities and their businesses are suffering as a result of rampant corruption, the Zimbabwe Informal Traders Council (ZITC) has said.

By Farai Mabeza

The council’s projects manager, Agnes Gwanzura, told a gender and corruption consultative workshop in Harare that women in the sector meet with many challenges caused by corrupt activities due to lack of proper resources and policies.

“This prohibits them from doing business with ease. They end up being victimised by corrupt officials,” Gwanzura said.

“To understand the relationship between gender and corruption in the informal sector we must understand that women constitute the highest number of those in the informal sector,” she added.

The current high rate of unemployment in Zimbabwe has also contributed to the number of women joining the informal sector in order to make a living.

“This has also increased the vulnerability of women to ‘corruption’ which they term as giving bribes, kick-backs, sextortion, extortion and forced relationships in order to gain favours, and services such as access to workspace, selection to benefit from certain facilities and to be chosen to lead others. For example, association leaders and management committee leaders,” Gwanzura said.

Many of the women in the informal sector have little knowledge of their rights and are easily taken advantage of. They are forced to give sexual favors and pay bribes to officials.

These practices don’t only happen in the Central Business District, but they also happen in the farming communities where informal women farm laborers are forced to give sexual favors in order to get work on the tobacco fields and other work in general.

Gwanzura said that poor or inadequate remuneration was worsening corruption.

“It is very difficult to come up with Anti-Corruption Policies that can be implemented in an environment where workers go for months without salaries.  This creates an opportunity for corruption to breed.

“Anti-corruption enforcers should be known and seen on sites not just in offices. There should be a demonstration of clear interventions by the anti-corruption enforcers which must encourage people to report any form of corruption.

“Reporters of corruption must not feel victimized, the process must be made easy and there must be a gender sensitive team which uses gender lenses in analyzing the extent of corruption in order to craft interventions that yield positive results,” she said.