Youth Invest lobbies for equity between local and Zambian traders
Youth lnvest’s is advocating for a level playing field for Victoria Falls based women and youth cross border traders with their Zambian counterparts.
A meeting held at Victoria Falls deLuxe Suites which was facilitated by the youth group and attended by various stakeholders including ZIMRA officials, banks and cross border traders, revealed that locals are disadvantaged in relation to ease of doing business as compared to favorable treatment accorded to Zambian nationals.
The group alleges that there is discrimination that has resulted in Zambian traders being treated with kid gloves at the expense of local youth and women, thereby creating unfair competition.
Attendees were sensitized on Youth lnvest’s new project dubbed: “Strengthening Zambezi women and youth informal cross border cooperation in Victoria Falls and Livingstone” which is aimed at promoting equality between local women and youth involved in cross border trading and those coming from Zambia.
According to Youth Invest, one of the privileges given to Zambians is that law enforcement agents turn a blind eye when Zambian traders engage in door to door selling, which is a liberty not extended to Zimbabwean youths and women who face arbitrary arrests for engaging in door to door selling. Given this prevailing situation, Youth Invest seeks to ensure that both Zimbabwean traders and Livingstone traders adhere to the law in order to curb unfair competition.
Speaking at the occasion, the Youth Invest Programs Director, Mgcini Moyo shed some light on the background of the organization and also took the opportunity to justify the focus on women and youths as vulnerable groups as well as the vested interest in Victoria Falls and Livingstone informal cross border traders.
“We are a youth-led feminist oriented organization that was founded in 2017 in Bulawayo, with a specific focus to develop young people and women in general while encouraging soft skills. These are issues to do with capacity building in four critical areas that we believe must be addressed. The roles are entrepreneurship, business leadership, leadership development and women and girls networking. We believe these contribute to developing a better young person that can stand for their rights.
We focus on women and youths because the majority of our population are women and youth. There is also unfair distribution of resources and that is why we are working on Victoria Falls and Livingstone because there is an unequal scale in terms of equity and access to income between local traders and Zambian traders. ln addition we already have other running initiatives so we are coming in to strengthen the already existing initiatives so as to achieve our goals. We also want to create multi-stakeholder formalized cooperation,” he said.
Nomqhele Siziba, the Youth lnvest Executive Director, unpacked the Zambezi informal cross border traders project, stressing on cross border cooperation as well as youth invest models.
“Cross border cooperation(CBC) is defined as any act, policy or practice aimed at developing and strengthening good neighboring relations between two or more border communities ,territorial administrations and /or other stakeholders. CBC can compromise various initiatives at local, national and regional levels starting from a policy, a development plan, a joint problem analysis or just arising from local or regional practices or common cultural background.
Looking at the Youth Invest model, the objectives are to create an informal cross border traders association working towards removing barriers to formalization of informal trade and lobbying government and its immigration stakeholders to tackle unfair informal trade competition and to strengthen cross border social cohesion between Livingstone and Victoria falls women and youth informal traders through cultural networking,” she said.
The curtain comes down on the new project on 22 June 2022.