COVID-19 Pandemic Restrictions in an Informal Economy: Reflections from Zimbabwe’s Informal Sector Livelihoods
Keywords:COVID-19, Zimbabwe governance frameworks, pandemics, self-help initiatives, coping mechanisms, informal livelihoods
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the world in an unprecedented way. Understanding the response of the Zimbabwean government to the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affected the informal sector economy is important. This study fills the research void on how various interventions by the government have impacted the informal sector. It demonstrates that the livelihoods supported by the informal sector have been negatively affected by the lockdown measures as well as curfews. Farm-produce vendors, entrepreneurs, second-hand clothes importers, taxi operators, barbers and hair salons were classified as non-essential services and had to observe lockdown restrictions. The study observes that these groups were significantly disrupted by the government’s response to the outbreak of COVID-19. Using a qualitative approach, the article reflects on the livelihood experiences of those dependent on this sector during this era by assessing measures that have been introduced to contain the epidemic. Using primary evidence from print and electronic media, the article corroborates the narratives shared in public forums with unobtrusive observations to report on the complex nature of fighting the pandemic in Zimbabwe’s informal sector. An in-depth document analysis as well as evidence from print and electronic media adds to the existing literature on the government’s informal sector policy response to pandemics. It gives an evaluation of the strategies implemented and how the people in the informal sector respond to such policy initiatives. This study explores the experiences of people engaged in informal projects in their quest for socio-economic empowerment given the coronavirus challenge and restrictive measures implemented by the government to curtail the spread of the disease.
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