By Own Correspondent
WORKERS in the informal sector are generating an equivalent of US$10, 81 weekly income which is far below the obtaining poverty lines, a study by the International Labour Organisation has established.
The report titled, “Zimbabwe: Putting Jobs at the Center of the Struggle” states that most owners of informal businesses are not reliable and dependable sources of meaningful income.
“Informal businesses owned by women seem to be less productive generating an income of ZWL$134 per week 57 hours of work compared to ZWL$173 dollars for 55 hours of work among men. Most businesses have fixed premises either permanent or temporary,” the study said.
The study notes that the sector is dominated by married adults with very low levels of education.
Their average age range is 41 years for men and 39 years for women and “Only 16 percent of men and 11 percent of women have tertiary education; either a TVET or a university diploma. The majority have secondary education or less.”
The study says there are no significant differences in terms of household size between men and women, but the proportion of women who are divorced or widows is higher which suggests that they are confronted with the need to work and in the absence of formal employment.
“Divorced women and widows do not have the choice but to engage in their own account work in the informal economy. Most businesses have only one employee often unpaid, operate in the service sector and generate low earnings per hour,” ILO said.
The average number of employees in businesses owned by men is 1.6 and one in the case of businesses owned by women. Women are more involved in wholesale activities, while men are more involved in the provision of services and manufacturing.
Informal businesses, nonetheless, do not register with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) to enjoy formal registration which gives firms access to the formal banking system and allows them to access public tenders and government contracts.
“Despite this, business owners opt not to register and two thirds declare not knowing about the registration process. This finding needs to be interpreted with caution because, according to key informants, the presumptive tax system for informal firms is well known,” added the report.