11 August, 2016
By Oksana Abboud, StreetNet Media Officer
StreetNet Affiliate from Zambia, the Alliance for Zambia Informal Economy Associations (AZIEA) was launched in October 2002. Over the years, it has faced and overcome many challenges relating to the informal economy. These include the lack of government policy on the informal sector and its development; lack of its representation in policy dialogue and decision-making and the lack of mobility to organise, recruit and service members.
One of AZIEA’s notable successes was its levy-tracking research which was launched in 2008 and completed in 2009. A Report which includes the findings and recommendations of this research, revealed a lack of institutional accountability and transparency regarding the levies collected. This was in violation of provisions of the Markets and Bus Stations Act of 2007. AZIEA had been a leading organisation in having this Act amended to ensure the proper collection of levies and their allocation.
AZIEA leader, Comrade Lameck Kashiwa, shared with StreetNet, some of the issues and challenges revealed by the research. It was initiated, he says, because of AZIEA’s suspicion that levies collected were not utilised properly as there was no service provision for both markets and bus stations which such levies should have ensured. As a major stakeholder in this, AZIEA wanted evidence on how much money was being collected and how this money was being used. Another concern was that the councils, who used one account for all monies collected, were using these to pay salaries.
The research AZIEA commissioned, was the first of its kind in attempting to track monies raised from market levies. The markets of Luburma (more popularly known as Kamwala Market) and New Site Market in Lusaka and Mansa respectively, were the chosen "sample" sites of the research, specifically to provide a comparative analysis between urban and rural based markets. The study used elements of the World Bank’s concept of Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys (PETS).
The findings of the 3-part report indicated serious shortcomings and malpractices in both markets, resulting in a lack of transparency and accountability about the levies collected. First, it was difficult to accurately calculate the total revenue collected from the markets since these were collected by various unofficial sources eg ad hoc and standing committees (for security and funerals); other monies went to China Hennan. Moreover, institutional mechanisms prescribed by the Markets and Bus Stations Act 2007, such as management boards and managers to administer the levies collected, did not exist in both markets. Third, the research revealed that not all monies collected by council cashiers were receipted; in some cases over half or three-quarters of daily collections ended in individuals’ pockets instead of council coffers.
On the positive side, Comrade Lashiwa states that the survey shows that it is possible to use PETS to monitor market levies. PETS is a critical tool to ensure that provisions of the Markets and Bus Stations 2007 are implemented. This helps with scrutinising market budgets’ formulation, resource allocation and utilisation, and further determine the quality of service provision to the general membership.
Recalling AZIEA’s activism to get the Market and Bus Stations Act amended, by holding a strike and refusing to pay market levies, and the findings of the research, Comrade Kashiwa noted: “The process of policy change is very tiring due to a lot of bureaucracy; hence it requires commitment and knowledge of procedure. Our suggestion is that the informal economy leadership needs to engage the trade union movement for support."
"It is also important for leadership to report back at any stage of engagement to seek support from members in a case where you may require militant actions (protests, strike-refusing to pay tax, petitioning etc.)," he concluded.
To read the full research report on “Market Levy Tracking”, please click here: