Employment Creation or Sheer Survival: Case of Street Vendors of Harare Metropolitan in Zimbabwe

Author's Name: Tavonga Njaya
Subject Area: Social Science and Humanities
Subject Economics
Section Research Paper


Informal economy; dilemma; unemployment; street vendors; governance; informality


The study investigated the employment creation capabilities of the informal sector in Zimbabwe using street vendors of Harare Metropolitan. The investigation relied extensively on qualitative research since we recognized that we did not intend to take a neutral or objective stand but rather a stand in favour of the informal sector or not and what it offered to the economy. The study showed that there was a shortage of formal employment at an alarming scale in Zimbabwe while an increasing number of workers were found in the informal sector. Although the informal sector was the fastest growing sector and the largest employer in the country, lack of recognition, for the majority of the entrepreneurs, low levels of organisation and poor coordination, lack of infrastructure and technology and assistance from the government hindered the small entrepreneurs from attaining their full potential. The jobs in the informal economy were merely survivalist and were characterised by subsistence activities and the businesses were short-term and transitory in nature. The absence of legal and regulatory frameworks and collective representation meant that informal workers remained extremely vulnerable. The dilemma of the informal sector in Zimbabwe remained thus just a dilemma-a false dilemma indeed. The high unemployment in the country should be met with decent jobs and not with a job at any price. The informal sector, with all its decent work deficits, could not provide the solution to the national under-and/or unemployment. Instead, the government should provide conducive macroeconomic, social, legal and political frameworks for the large-scale creation of sustainable, decent jobs as well as business opportunities.

Download Full Paper