Critical analysis of the church's response to the development of the informal economic sector in the city of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
This thesis examines the informal sector of the economy in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and the role the church can play in assisting those who are involved. In describing the nature of the informal economic sector the thesis investigates the reasons for the existence of the informal sector, namely the economic structural adjustment programme, unemployment, land and climatic conditions in Bulawayo, post independence political disturbances and easy entry into the industry; the types of the sector, namely, manufacturing and wholesaling, which has the clothing, steel and furniture manufacturing industries; the retail sector, which has the vegetable vending and the flea markets; and the service sector, which has the foreign currency traders and other activities such as television, radio and shoe repairs, prostitution, shebeens and pirate industries. The impact the informal sector has on established business has also been considered, and the role of the funders of the informal sector. Particular attention is drawn to the problems of the informal traders , which are identified as lack of legal protection and freedom of operation, lack of training, lack of access to business and marketing information, lack of credit facilities, lack of quality merchandise, the fact that it is considered illegal business, the problems of foreign currency, fuel shortage and high prices, lack of sanitary conditions, lack of adequate support from the city authorities, lack of equipment and lack of social security. The thesis then presents an argument for the church's involvement in assisting people engaged in the informal economic sector, with a reflection on the Biblical tradition and the concept of humanization. The projects of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa are discussed and attention is drawn to the background history of the activities and administration of the projects, the problems encountered and the way forward. Finally, the thesis proposes eight key strategic initiatives that the church can take. These are the change of attitude of the church in order to meet the needs of the church, advocacy to government, advocacy to banks and financial institutions, by establishing financial support for the informal industry, by supporting organizations such as BUTA and the formation of the National Association of the Informal Sector, by offering training and mentorship , by giving support and counselling and finally by giving of the church's own facilities where necessary and appropriate.