Beitbridge Municipality says the temporary closure of the informal sector after President Emmerson Mnangagwa`s lockdown decree came into effect in March left a huge hole in their coffers.
The informal sector was one of the most affected sectors after government came up with a raft of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
In an interview with CITE, Beitbridge Town Clerk, Loud Ramakgapola said the informal sector is the core of the Municipality and the removal of the sector from the markets affected their income.
“One of the areas which Beitbridge gets its money especially for day to day operation is from informal traders, those again had to be away or removed from their markets, that affected in terms of income, day to day running of the municipality, they are a core, like I said we have lots of these informal traders in the town,” said Ramakgapola.
He said the sector was greatly affected during the months of April and May, citing that even though the vendors were allowed to operate during the eased lockdown phase, it was no longer the same as they had to observe social distancing hence limiting the number of vendors.
“When they were out there, not in the markets that affected our day to day income especially around April and May and even when they came back because of social distancing and so on, we had to also ask them instead of having the maximum number they had to have a certain limited number, so in terms of income again our council was then found wanting in that area,” said the Town Clerk.
The informal sector was allowed to reopen after President Mnangagwa eased lockdown restrictions on June 12.
Ramakgapola added that their other cash cow, the cross border buses has been heavily affected.
“Covid-19 has negatively affected our town, you know that Beitbridge also receives a lot of buses, sometimes up to 70 buses per day at our rank and thus a lot of income for the Municipality and since the end of March we have not been able to realise that income it’s a big hole that we may not fill,” he said.
“We have lost a lot of revenue because currently I think we have two ZUPCO buses here, that in any way is not close to replacing the number of buses we were receiving at our rank.
“Actually, our rank is now like a white elephant because of that, because Covid was related to the closure of the border, our economy is so dependent on this border working and people crossing into South Africa,” said Ramakgapola.