Vendors vow their Zimbabwe’s most taxed people
The traders have disputed the assertion that they are notorious for tax evasion and, instead, claimed that the sector is one of the most taxed in Zimbabwe.
Lorraine Sibanda, Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA) president, said the sector “awaiting its formalisation” to save traders from being fleeced by the system.
“There is a perception that informal economy workers are tax evaders which is not correct.
“They are multi-taxed from the time they buy goods, VAT is paid; then there is a whole lot of levies – you pay a levy to the city council.
“Again, some political party marshal comes and you pay them, the owner of the stall wants something and you pay them,” Sibanda told a news conference in Harare this Wednesday.
Her remarks come in light of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Recommendation on Transitioning the Informal Economy into Formal in relation to the Zimbabwe.
The recommendation seeks to promote decent work, life, sustainable economic growth, social security and work opportunities.
The informal sector, which is estimated to be contributing at least 60 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is always blamed for the declining revenue collections which the tax authority believes can be improved once the sector is captured by the tax system.
Sibanda said the ILO recommendation can only turnaround Zimbabwe’s development prospects if public office holders stop politicising the sector.
“In Zimbabwe the only thing that is stopping people from doing the correct thing is politicisation of anything. Even going to toilet for vendors is politicised, they work in places with no toilets.
“If they are regarded as belonging to a certain (political) party there is nothing that is going to be done to correct it except chasing them up and down but councils do collect money from them,” said Sibanda.
Sibanda also warned government to revisit its statistics on the human resources contribution of the sector to the economy.
“Accept that we have a very big informal economy,” she said.
“We should not down-play the informal economy figures due to ESAP (Economic Structural Adjustment Programme) and the (Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku) judgement which allowed the employers to do as they please resulting in a historic number of workers being dismissed.”
Sibanda was recently appointed StreetNet International president on ZCIEA ticket with an obligation to unite and represent the informal economy workers in Africa.