Social security for informal traders proposed

22 April 2020 | Labour



The Namibia Informal Traders and Shebeen Workers Union says there is now a clear need for its members to start benefiting from social safety nets just like formal workers.

Its secretary-general, Matheus Stefanus, said the lockdown restrictions meant a loss of income for informal traders and those working for shebeens as businesses in the informal sector were not allowed to operate.

“People in the informal sector live off of trading … because of the restrictions, those people do not have an income,” Stefanus said.

Stefanus reasoned that those working in the informal sector were not benefiting from any benefits that may in future be paid out by the Social Security Commission.

According to Stefanus, informal traders operating as sole traders often only get trade certificates for their businesses and cannot apply for social security certificates and at a later stage apply for them. This was a common occurrence for the vast majority of informal traders, Stefanus said.

“Most of our members are not registered with the Social Security Commission.

“What we propose is a bill that regulates the informal sector so that we can have these things for our members,” Stefanus said.

He further felt that a bill would give guidance as to how long informal traders could operate and the circumstances in which they could operate.

Informal traders were recently requested to apply for the government's emergency income grant after many of them had to stop trading as a way to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Informal traders whose applications were successful were paid a one-off grant of N$750 to supplement the income that they had lost.

A total of 578 563 have to date applied for the grant while N$176.7 million has been paid out to many working in the informal sector.