Precious Masakara

Women in the informal sector have been hardest hit by the global pandemic, Covid-19.

Coming on the back of Women’s Month celebrations, female-headed household have faced most of the economic brunt in the face of the local lockdown, which began Monday midnight.

Most women who are not formally employed survive on vending, hairdressing and dressmaking and live on the profits of the day.

Whereas the lockdown requires one to stock enough basic commodities to survive through the three weeks of economic inactivity, those who survive on profits realised per day cannot afford this.

A survey by Sunday Mail Online, prior to the lockdown, showed that most saloons were empty as a precautionary measure against the spread of the deadly virus.

A hairdresser who chose to speak on conditions of anonymity said that times are hard and hope is uncertain.

“My three children are supported by my single hand and I do not know what to do anyone, I never thought a virus that started in Wuhan would come this heavily on us,” she said.

“For the past week business had gone down, I have lost a lot of clients who are trying to put their health first.

“Now that there is a total lockdown, I do not know where I will get sufficient funds to keep my family surviving,” she added.

Business had been on go-slow even before the lockdown as most took precaution, “prevention being better than cure”.

To date Zimbabwe has recorded eight cases of Covid-19 with one death.

Speaking to Sunday Mail Online, Miss Ritah Kamutingondo, who survives on retailing, said she has lost business in the past two weeks.

“It has been lockdown even before the lockdown and it has been a series of losses,” she said.

“My customers have been staying at home while I am stuck with stock and we all know too much money tied up in stocks is investment lost and we never saw this coming.

“Rentals need to be paid yet I have no customers that am going to sell to, the struggle is real,” she added.

Most fruit and vegetable vendors survive on buying from the famous Mbare Musika.

Prior to the lockdown, the market, always known to be  overcrowded, was a pale shadow of itself as many vendors were avoiding the area.

Asiyatu Byson, a fruit and vegetable vendor, said the lockdown is going to leave most vendors languishing in poverty.

“We cannot buy a lot of tomatoes to last the rest of the lockdown as these are perishables,” she said.

Miss Caren Shoniwa, who runs a boutique, urged fellow women that the phase will pass by and everyone must stay strong.

“I know that this is going to be a hard time for us, especially those of us who are used to buying groceries on a day-to-day basis but it is better for us to stay safe than be sorry as this phase will definitely pass,” she said.