ILO – seeks Informal Economy Transition to Formalization

By Michael Ndiweni in Turin, Italy

The International Labour Organization is currently hosting a training course on Transition from Informal Economy to Formal Economy targeting over hundred global representatives from governments, labour trade unions and informal economy civil society organizations at the International ILO Training Centre in Turin, Italy. The training began on 12 November 2018 ending 23 November 2018. The training course is anchored on ILO Recommendation 204 that seeks to facilitate the transition of workers and economic units from the informal to the formal economy, while respecting workers’ fundamental rights, ensuring opportunities for income security, livelihoods and entrepreneurship among other issues.

The course equips participants with knowledge on the transition from the informal to the formal economy as well as to engage in constructive dialogue and debate on the future of informality. Africa, Asia, South America and Europe are engaged in advanced thinking around concepts and methodologies for reducing informality in the world with Africa having the largest contingent of over fifty delegates. The training is presenting global participants with an opportunity to exchange lessons on existing practices, and to adopt or adapt lessons learnt to specific country contexts to ensure decent work for all.

Top transition to formal economy experts, statisticians and practitioners from various ILO country offices and other leading international agencies are leading the discussions. Compelling questions such as the diagnostics of informality characteristics, causes, and drivers, circumstances of informality in a national and international context have been interrogated. Global participants have been broken into thematic groups to discuss ideas around extending social protection to workers in the informal economy, dealing with formalization of employment relationship. The next days will examine how macroeconomic and sectoral policies affect informality or the transition to formal economy.

Speaking during the training a researcher from Algeria said that countries cannot integrate informal economies without the political will. While giving a contextual analysis Mr Phillipe Marcadent from ILO said “ You cannot ignore people in the informal economy because are the majority” “60% of population in the world are in the informal economy, women have worst conditions in the informal economy and need special attention, we cannot globalise informal economy because there are wide and different scenarios” he continued . Another expert, Head of Informal Economy Unit – ILO Mr Frederic Lapeyre quizzed participants on how can they make sure that people have decent work and are able to deal with structural transformation.

Some participants however challenged and questioned the motive for formalization and argued that Recommendation 204 seem to be to some extent advancing a neo liberal agenda that will be further burden workers in the informal economy who are facing with problems of declining economies particularly in many African economies.

One of the key fundamentals of Recommendation 204 is that it does not cover illicit activities, in particular the provision of services or the production, sale, possession or use of goods forbidden by law, including the illicit production and trafficking of drugs. The recommendation also does not cover the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, trafficking in persons, and money laundering, as prohibited in the relevant international treaties.

 

Can be contacted on Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

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Zimbabwe Upper Middle Income Economy Agenda 2030, – Are we not inviting trouble for our country

The government’s neoliberal agenda and its target for the Upper Middle Income Economy (UMIE) by 2030 if not handled well might present us with many challenges that will further alienate and suffocate the poor and down trodden. For the benefit of those who may not have read about it, the precursor to this agenda is the Transitional  Stabilisation Programme (TSP) Reform  Agenda from  October 2018 – December 2020  under the theme “ Towards a Prosperous & Empowered Upper Middle Income Society by 2030” The Transitional Stabilisation Programme focuses  on; stabilising the macro-economy, and the financial sector, introducing necessary policy, and institutional reforms, to transform to a private sector led economy, addressing infrastructure gaps and  launching quick-wins to stimulate growth.

So Zimbabwe is seeking to move from what appears to be Low-Income Economy  which has a  Gross NationaI  Income per capita of $995 or less in 2017 (Word Bank Atlas Method) to Upper Middle-Income Economy  with a Gross National Income (GPI)  per capita between $3,896 and $12,055. In the world so far there are 58 countries falling us this category.

Implications of the neo liberal agenda  

In 2017, 51% of all humanitarian funds were requested by the United Nations for crises in Middle Income countries (UNOCHA, 2017). Thus Upper Middle Income Economies seem to have more problems and a widening gap between the rich and poor. For example Upper Middle Income Countries that have wider gap between rich and poor; closer home is the republic of South Africa that stands out as one of the most unequal countries in the world. In 2014, the top 10% received 2/3 of national income, while the top 1% received 20% of national income (World Inequality Index 2014). Namibia is another country that can be explored to demonstrate dangers of moving to Upper Middle Income Economy. Outside the African continent, Brazil  is another example whose income distribution has remained extremely unequal over the last 15 years, with the top 10% receiving over 55% of total income in 2015.

Based on the above, a number of questions arise i.e.  Is it what we want as a country, were the citizens consulted in coming up with this economic reform agenda. Many of the citizens heard about the Upper Middle Income Economy Agenda 2030 when the Finance and Economic Development Minister was addressing potential investors in Washington DC.  Is it the best model for our economic development, are there no other pro – poor alternatives besides going the route that appears will create problems for us.  To put these questions into perspective, World Band (2017), notes that five billion of the world’s seven billion people and 73% of the world’s POOR live in middle-income countries. In my Ndebele language we would say under these circumstances “LLokhu yikuzidonsela amanzi ngomsele” meaning we are inviting problems for ourselves, has current setup failed us?

The possible problems of this economic reform agenda to the poor;

  • There is a likelihood that there will be displacement of people to create space for investors particularly those in the extractives.
  • There is a likelihood of re- introduction of modern day slavery through tax holidays and low wages.
  • Exclusion of part of the population from the benefits of economic growth, no trickledown effect as it seems to focus on Gross National Income per Capita than Social Indicators and use of the Genuine Progress Indicator.
  • Corrupt tendencies on tender processes and kickbacks particularly to those who will “facilitate” business deals for investors.
  • Ridiculous taxation on ordinary citizens like the Intermediary Money Transfer Tax of 2 cents & Sin Tax among others.
  • High cost of living since many public goods will be privatised as defined by the neo- liberal agenda. Government has already given some State Owned Enterprises deadline to conclude their privatisation strategies.
  • Domestic debt will continue increasing and burden the future unless the country is classified under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and get special assistance from the Bretton Words institutions.

 

In my view as a country we need to;

  • Need to have Efficient Wealth Distribution pro- poor policies.
  • Effective Civil Society to hold government to account.
  • Participatory planning and inclusivity of all citizens.
  • Strong institutions that combat corruption and government excesses.
  • Local resource mobilisation
  • Community, Private, Public Partnerships.
  • Revitalising Trade Unions.
  • Re- modelling Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Austerity measures focusing mainly on profligate government expenditure.

Michael Ndiweni is the Executive Director for Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association , media scholar, also a Freelance journalist, he writes in his own capacity.

Can be contact on twitter @mdladlaspeaks.

De-harmonise local government elections – Residents speak

Residents in Bulawayo and various cities have called for de-harmonising local government elections to improve attention paid to council candidates in local government elections. This came at a stakeholder meeting organized by Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) and Women Institute Leadership Development (WILD) to share findings for the Local Government Elections Survey Report – The Uncertainty of 2018  done last year from August – October 2017 with a sample of 3640 respondents.

Lead Researcher Dr Davison Muchadenyika said the study observed that the timing of local government elections should not coincide with presidential and parliamentary elections as it does not raise the profile of local government elections and that it does not increase political competition during council elections.

Interviewed on the side-lines of the meeting Honourable Malaba MP Phumula Constituency also ZANU PF parliamentary candidate who was also present at the meeting said “It is an important recommendation for an election, when elections are separated people will opt for quality than in harmonised elections where people opt for partisan arrangement”  “It is a very sound recommendation, legislators must take it into account and perhaps raise a motion parliament, he added.   He said that he will foster a sense of serious consideration and definitely put it as his party agenda and that there is however still need for wider consultation.

MDC Alliance local government council candidate for Ward 9 Mr Mabutho Donaldson concurred with MP Malaba and said “De-harmonisation gives people an opportunity to choose candidates based on their strengths, because during harmonised elections people are told to vote for a party name, but de-harmonisation helps to look for strengths, capacity of every individual” He pointed that harmonised elections confuse the electorate and makes people just to vote without knowing the candidates abilities.

Asked to comment on the de-harmonisation recommendation from the researchers at the same meeting Mr Fortune Mlalazi People’s Rainbow Coalition Candidate  for Magwegwe Constituency said “We definitely need to de-harmonise so that there is more concentration on local government business, this will allow us to choose quality candidates because we will be more focused and give more attention to local development” He said in South African for example there are separate elections between national and local government elections.

The study also revealed that 60% of the respondents of local government election survey prefer mayors with executive powers and 52.4% prefer councillors to work full time at the council.  The study also recommended that CSO must play a critical role to organise debate sessions for council candidates, publish and disseminate credentials of candidates, provide the electorate with simplified checklists of issues to look for in parties and candidates  an election campaign and manifestos.

The survey was conducted by the ‘We Pay You Deliver’ (WPYD)  Civil Society Consortium focusing on harnessing citizen demand for improved service delivery & transparent use of public resources. The Consortium was comprised of Danish Church Aid, Combined Harare Residents Association, Harare Residents Trust  , Habakkuk Trust,  ZWRCN, Diakonia and the two organizations that hosted the meeting.  Project target areas were Harare Bulawayo, Mutare, Masvingo & Umzingwane.

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

Residents castigate candidate imposition in Bulawayo

Bulawayo residents have castigated some political parties for imposing candidates for local government elections scheduled for 30 July 2018. Participants at a meeting organized by BPRA and WILD to share the findings of the Local Government Elections Survey – The Uncertainty of 2018 carried out between and October 2017.

Speaking on the side-lines of the meeting Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association Chairperson Mr Reason Ngwenya said the move taken by political parties is not unacceptable, all the candidates must come from the people, not from the parties. He said “Democracy is about people and people must choose their own candidates” “Parties that imposed candidates are likely to lose those council seats” He warned.

To guard against candidate imposition,  the study urged political parties to evaluate the credentials of council candidates during primary elections and that parties must have a criteria for candidates which is competence and integrity based.   The research rated the performance of sitting councillors as poor by 44.7%.

Media houses have reported that conflicts that have erupted in various political parties after allegedly imposition of some council elections candidates in some wards. To demonstrate the height of the fissures on candidate imposition, when the MDC Alliance presidential candidate Advocate Nelson Chamisa took to micro blogging platform- Twitter to complain about the allegedly refusal by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release the voters roll to MDC Alliance, Mr Lion oh Judah who is believed to the son of Mr Felix Magalela Sibanda MDC T Chamisa party spokesperson replied and said “ Magwegwe folk begged for primary elections and you denied them. We have asked for sanctions against ZANU PF if they do not elections. I will be meeting @SenBooker over the selling of 210 congressional seats to personal friends of yours. Criminal. You are corrupt.”

On the 18th of June 2018, Mr Mbuso Siso who has been deputy national information and publicity secretary confirmed on a Facebook post that the Professor Welshman Ncube led MDC has dismissed him  for allegedly blocking imposition of Mr Nkanyiso Brezhnev Mathonsi to be a candidate for ward 2 Bulawayo Central seat. He accused Professor for his dictatorial behaviour and likened him to Mugabe regime that attempted to create a dynasty by imposing his wife.

The study further recommended that parties must prioritise council elections by fielding candidates with a traceable record of public service commitment than those preferred by those higher echelons of political parties.

By Michael Ndiweni

Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

Sympathy Vote favours Dr Khuphe in Zimbabwe 2018 polls

 

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The Zimbabwean forthcoming elections slated for the 30th of July 2018 presents presidential candidates with different prospects, one of the key issues that politicians, key board political warriors aka Social Media activists and political pundits ignore is the Sympathy Vote.

A Sympathy Vote entails an occasion when a lot of people vote for or support a particular person because he or she has suffered recently on her/his struggles with abuse.

For example a tragic death of a political candidate in the midst of a campaign. The concept of the Sympathy Vote suggests that media coverage of the tragedy and the unification of public opinion carry the party of the deceased to victory on Election Day. Thus the MDC T party stood a better chance to benefit from a Sympathy Vote after the demise of its founding leader Dr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai before its fights escalated leading to Dr Thokozani Khuphe holding her extra ordinary  congress after the MDC T National Executive Council controversially endorsed Advocate Nelson Chamisa to be the interim president until congress.

It is also important to point that in this concept that the emotional dynamics of public opinion may not be so simple and binary but complex. Researchers have argued that the relationship between emotion and candidate support hinges largely on behavioural expectations of those that remain entrusted with the duty to fulfil the mandate and also how the media covers all the processes that ensures after the death of the candidate.

In light of the ugly scenes witnessed in Buhera during the burial of Morgan Tsvangirai where the MDC T Vanguard militia harassed Dr Khuphe and nearly set the hut that she and other officials have taken refuge in set in motion negative coverage by the media. Thus according to the Sympathy Vote concept if messages violate expectations, media will focus on controversy leading to a dissipation of the sympathy effect in public opinion.

One can therefore deduce that for now the Sympathy Vote flies in the face of MDC T faction led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa who now heads MDC Alliance and has eluded them because sustained coverage of ugly scenes and debauchery witnessed also in Bulawayo and continuous reports of imposition of candidates, threats of shootings and fights within rank and file of the faction. As bitter as it is to swallow for now the biggest beneficiary of the Sympathy Vote is the faction led by Dr Khuphe whom the media has largely pointed to be the victim of the MDC T internal fights, her cause has been further strengthened by sexism undertones that the public has deducted from utterances made by her erstwhile compatriot Advocate Nelson Chamisa in some platforms here and abroad.

Observers must not also ignore the fact that the ZANU PF candidate stands to benefit from the Sympathy Vote, one as a victim of former president Robert Gabriel Mugabe political shenanigans, secondly as he appears to be “messiah: who served Zimbabweans from facing 39 years of Mugabe’s rule albeit being propped by the military to ascend to presidency in November 2017. The disappearance of the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the highways who seemingly thrived on milking Zimbabweans their hard earned money, semblance of new found freedoms such as freedom of expression, freedom of association and aura of hope that has been restored post military assisted transition, opening of operating space for Civil Society to carry its functions within communities seem to tilt the Sympathy Vote also to ZANU PF candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa. Sadly the populace seem to forget that the ZANU PF candidate is accused of being the hand that implemented Gukurahundi Genocide under the instruction of former president Robert Mugabe that left over 20000 people dead according to conservative estimates from CCJP.  MDC Alliance candidate Advocate Nelson Chamisa is the biggest loser of the Sympathy Vote due his seemingly reckless statements, coupled with accusations of peddling lies in his addresses.

The Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) also stands to benefit from Sympathy Vote from Matabeleland region, their determined campaign to demand closure on Gukurahundi, their sustained media messages on economic exclusion of the people from Matabeleland is a shot in the arm for them to get the Sympathy Vote. Protests against President Emmerson  Mnangagwa at Zimbabwe International  Trade Fair  (ZITF) and the subsequent arrests of their 8 activists,  protests at the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) outreach meetings also presents them with an opportunity to get the Sympathy Vote

Lastly, it can be concluded that the biggest beneficiary of the Sympathy Vote in the opposition will be MDC T faction led by Dr Thokozani Khuphe assuming the courts rule in her favour, if not that vote will certainly go to Dr Nkosana Moyo, who could spring a surprise on middle class vote and assimilate the Sympathy Vote. Emmerson Mnangagwa shall also benefit from the Sympathy Vote based of his perceived role to have untangled Zimbabweans from Robert Mugabe’s bondage. More investigations must be done to get an elaborate picture on Sympathy Vote, its nexus with public opinion created by the media.

Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

Email: mikejnrsind82@gmail.com

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Vendors and Informal traders launch Anti- Corruption and Coordination Task Team

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Bulawayo Vendors and Vendors Association (BVTA) and various Bulawayo based vendors associations working in partnership with Transparency International Zimbabwe have established a Vendors and Traders Anti-Corruption and Coordination Task Force to help raise awareness on corruption and help to coordinate and disseminate information among members of associations. The platform seeks to play a watch dog role and be a whistle blower to any corrupt activities that occur in trading and vending areas.  Vendors and traders lamented corrupt practices by some law enforcement agents who solicit for bribes and sometimes confiscate their wares and disappear before reaching the warehouses. More alarming were revelations that women bear the brunt of sexual harassment from some errant law enforcements agents who demand sex in order to let them free.

The idea was proposed at an Informal Sector Governance workshop held at Transparency International Zimbabwe, Bulawayo office. The workshop was meant to assist Vendors and Informal traders understand how corruption occurs in the informal sector; understand the personal and cooperate rights in criminal and civil liability of involvement in corruption and to develop strategies on how to reduce corruption.

Transparency International Zimbabwe says that Zimbabwe scored 21 points out of 100 on the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index and the country is ranked 150 least corrupt nation out of 175 countries. It must be noted that the Corruption Perception Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be and not the informal sector, however the data provided mirrors the informal sector as some services rendered to the informal sector are from various government arms hence the perception that illicit dealings are rampant in the informal sector.

Vendors also highlighted a number of challenges they face in the industry among them lack of support on lines of credit to finance their small businesses as banks and micro- financiers demand collateral. Vendors were encouraged to pursue internal lending and savings, establish group bank accounts, pilot ideas such as Grameen Bank by Mohamoud Yunis. Informal traders called for review of legislation that governs National Social Security to consider schemes that cater for vendors as they are now part of the huge economy sector. Estimates from the government have shown that in 2013 the Informal sector was accounting for $7 billion dollars and against $4billion national budget.

Speaking at the same workshop during a breakaway session Debra Mukasa an official from Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association urged associations to advocate for the formalization of the informal sector in order to be orderly and organized so as to access loans and be recognized by the government. “Formalizing the informal traders will help us to be recognized by the government and also help us to lobby  the government to introduce social security schemes for us vendors” she said. “When we grow old we do have other means of survival but if the government allows us to make small contributions to NSSA, it will cushion us and our families” she added

Mr Dumisani Ncube from Bulawayo Traders Association urged informal traders to consider acquiring pieces of land as associations and construct buildings that they can sublet and the returns be used for social security schemes.

Informal Traders and Vendors Association committed to work closely with Transparency International Zimbabwe in fighting corruption and promotion of their rights. Transparency International Zimbabwe pledged to provide legal services and assist in coordinating the informal traders and vendors associations.

For feedback: mikejnrsind82@gmail.com   / twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

Aspiring Activistas fight for the right to learning materials in Northern Ghana.

http://www.actionaid.org/activista/2015/11/aspiring-activistas-fight-right-learning-materials-northern-ghana

Fourteen (14) young people, who recently signed up to join Activista Ghana, have stepped up their ante by influencing the Global Platform Ghana Campaign course 2015 participants to focus on Teacher rationalization campaign in Northern region, Ghana. The advocacy campaign is organized under the theme “Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMs) for quality education in basic schools”

The aspiring Activista Ghana members have together with other young activists from Burundi, Nigeria and Senegal set their target on building the skills of teachers and schools executives such as School Management Committees (SMCs), Teacher Parent Associations (PTAs) to lobby the Northern Region District Directorate and other key stakeholders in education to provide Teaching and Learning Materials for basic schools. The activists have chosen Kpene, Dabokpa, Dimala and Paazar communities in Tamale to be at the center of their advocacy campaign.

A situational analysis tour carried out by these activists to the four selected communities revealed that rural teachers feel disadvantaged as compared to their urban counterparts. Bulk of the teachers who spoke to the campaigners lamented long distance, bad roads, inadequate teaching and learning materials as demotivating and an impediment to effective teaching. They also argued that lack of cooperation from parents to support them with social amenities like alternative housing has negatively affected the moral of teachers. The tour also exposed alarming levels of low pass rates in rural areas; one school visited recorded a pass rate of as low as 28% in 2014.

According to the Education Strategic Plan (ESP 2010 – 2020 Vol (1) p14 improving the conditions of Teachers is a top priority coupled with availability of Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMs). The strategy also highlights the importance equipping teachers with improvisation of mechanisms as stop gap measure in the short term.

One of the Activista Ghana aspirant member Yakubu Yussif  who is part of the campaign said “We chose to campaign on Teacher Rationalization with a bias towards Teaching Learning and Materials because it motivates teachers, it improves the performance of students.”  He continued “ The current conditions dissuade rural teachers who have no adequate teaching and learning materials,” “ What is striking the most is the fact the very rural teachers have to prepare their students for the same examinations that their urban counterparts sit for who have a better competitive advantage as their conditions are better “ he added.

The activists have argued that provision of teaching and learning facilities is a right.  The Ghanaian Constitution of 1992, Article 38 (1)  provides  that the “ the state shall provide educational facilities at all levels in all the regions of Ghana and shall be to the greatest extent possible make those facilities available to all citizens “ and hence the government has a duty to provide for teaching and learning materials as guaranteed in the constitution. Article 21 (1) further gives credence to their argument that basic education shall be free, compulsory and available to all.

The course has so far covered 5 weeks. The young activists have been equipped with knowledge and skills to run an effective campaign.  The next four weeks will witness an intense series of activities as part of the campaign on Teacher Rationalization – Teaching and Learning Materials. A durbar at the Chief Palace has been lined up to mobilize people to support the campaign and be aware of challenges faced by teachers and promote the importance of provision of teaching and learning materials. Radio programmes and stakeholders meetings will build the momentum towards a march expected to bring together over 200 residents of Tamale Metropolitan advocating for teaching and learning materials in four (4) target basic schools.

The campaign is in sync with ActionAid International Key Change promise six (6) which harnesses youth leadership to end poverty and injustices. The campaign course creates confident and skilled social change agents and campaigners who will contribute significantly to the realization of successful campaigns in ActionAid and formation of new Activista networks.

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

For feedback: mikejnrsind82@gmail.com

Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks