Lack of employment has forced graduates to dive into the informal sector in order to survive as the economic woes in the country continue. Corruption has its toes in the informal sector too as the law enforcers seek bribes.
It has now become a norm that after graduating most graduates engage in the informal sector for survival with the majority venturing in the selling of bales, electronic gadgets, fruits, some sell fuel at the black market, others are black market foreign exchangers while some have become commuter omnibus assistants. However, in order to operate well, one has to pay a bribe to the law enforcers.
Some graduates have to take care of their siblings and because of that they have to find something to do and the only thing that they can think of is the informal sector. For Ivainashe Takundwa a 24-year-old university graduate life has never been fair because she is failing to secure a job. Therefore she decided to venture into the informal sector in order to help feed her siblings, but the goings have been tough there.
Narrating her ordeal Takundwa said that, working as an informal trader is not for the faint-hearted since it requires one to be always on the lookout for municipal and police officials who are always demanding money on a daily basis.
“It is so sad that security officers always demand bribes daily. Sometimes we run away and other times our products are taken by municipality officials. The sad part for us women is that some even demand sex if we do not have money to pay them,” she said.
Some informal traders who were nearby during the interview started to interject, another one identified as Mamoyo said that the situation is now worse because of covid-19 especially before the borders were opened and even now that they were opened. In order for them to survive, they have to engage in corrupt activities from borders where they give Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) officials money to allow their goods to pass the border.
Research by Transparency International has reviewed that covid-19 has served as a catalyst for corruption which has contributed to a wave of corruption-related incidents this has resulted in the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) embarking on a campaign to lobby citizens to pressure the government to act on corruption. Recently Zimcodd launched ‘The How Far’ 2.0 After4 campaign, its first phase will take the engagement of public office holders to another level as citizens continue to ask questions, four years after the 2018 elections were made.
Social Economic Justice activist Gracia Mashingaiidze said that ‘The How Far” campaign 2.0 came at a time when the country is preparing for this month’s by-elections and 2023 elections as well.
“There could not have been a better time to ask ‘How far’ after four years since corruption is still affecting our society,” she said.
Sandra Matendere director of ZWCTA said corruption has been normalized in Zimbabwe and it has become easy of doing business with women most affected
“As ZWACT we have carried out a mini-survey to find out how women at grassroots are affected by corruption and see whether they are participating in anti-corruption initiatives. Our findings show that corruption affects women more than men but very few women participate in the anti-corruption initiatives,” she said.
“Informal traders are being asked to pay bribes in order to get vending stalls. The worrying part is, those who are directly affected by corruption fail to report such cases because they lack knowledge of reporting mechanisms,” she said.
Matendere highlighted that some female entrepreneurs said they encounter challenges when trying to do business with men especially when they are in need of assistance.
“They said men demand sex in exchange for business deals and when one denies it means the deal is canceled. We can safely say corruption is now like a pandemic especially nowadays because of the economic challenges necessitated by Covid-19 shocks,” she said.