‘Picking up the pieces’: Reconstructing the informal economic sector in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 1
  • Abstract:

    English: Since the launch of Operation Restore Order in May 2005 in all urban centres by the Zimbabwean government, the informal economic sector in Bulawayo has undergone significant transformations and growth. In contravention of the legal and regulatory controls and against the backdrop of a severe economic crisis, the government embarked on a clean-up campaign that devastated the urban poor and reduced them to destitute people. The blitz destroyed informal business structures, evicting and detaining operators and confiscating their wares purporting to restore the lost glimmer and liveliness of the city. Even registered vendors that operated at designated sites with operating licences properly issued by the city authorities were not spared. This study’s preliminary findings reveal how the planning system has metamorphosed to keep up with changing circumstances and how it has helped to revolutionise the vendors’ struggles by organising and mobilising them to revive the indispensable informal economy. In conclusion the article argues that city authorities should work closely with the associations of the urban poor to achieve the objectives both of maintaining urban health and of ensuring the means of livelihood for the unemployed, in particular against the backdrop of a distressed formal sector that has reeled under economic structural adjustments that led to massive deindustrialisation and retrenchments since the 1990s.