At the core of Zimbabwe’s informal economy

By Shingi Nyahwa

Young people are risk takers, they tender the world with new intuitions to multifaceted challenges, at the same time our country rarely reflects them this way. This week we were driving along the Zvishavane- Shurugwi High way and I was inspired by a group of primary school boys who took it upon themselves to service potholes on the high way by filling them with gravel whilst herding cattle concurrently.

Lack of recognition of the efforts of young people is the missing link as the youth in Zimbabwe are transitioning to productive adulthood it is hardly visible. The New York Times recently published an article titled “Trade on the Streets, and Off the Books, Keeps Zimbabwe Afloatfor example. Whilst the article explored the real situation in the Zimbabwean economy it conveniently overlooked digging in to the rest of the story: the positive role of young people in trying to resuscitate the economy.

Currently Zimbabwe is generally calm whilst being as productive as possible economically and this leads to how and why Zimbabwe’s informal economy has managed to keep the economy afloat when the formal economy is tumbling. Statistically it is quite obvious that Zimbabwe’s youth comprise a miniscule percentage of the jobs in the formal economy more so half of these are employed in the civil service which is facing its own set of challenges.

The current liquidity crunch in the country’s financial sector and the continued loss of United States Dollars circulating in the economy and the introduction of Statutory instrument 64 of 2016 which restricts importation of a number of products paint a gloomy picture for the Zimbabwean formal economy and it is quite realistic that our economy is getting along due to the parallel informal economy were 95 percent of the population earn a living of which 60 % of these are young people.

An informal economy is the part of the economy that is neither taxed nor monitored by any form of government and Zimbabwe has a parallel informal economy since the informal economy is running alongside existing structures of a  formalized economy .Zimbabwean youths are not sitting back waiting for macro-economic solutions but they have mastered the art of adapting , they are forging ahead and working night and day stepping up the task and successfully building their future in unique ways and overcoming various barriers successfully and.

It is high time the efforts of the young people in Zimbabwe are recognized and complemented as we strive to pick up the broken pieces and reimagine our future as a country.

 Shingirai Nyahwa is a social and political analyst and also a blogger. Follow him on Twitter @SNyahwa.