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One of the persistent colonial relics and structures of dominance in Africa in general and Southern Africa in particular is trade with the former colonial masters. The former British, Portuguese and Belgian colonies in the present Southern African Development Community (SADC) conduct trade mostly with their former colonizers almost four decades after political independence. The bizarre structure of authority is the absence of intra-regional formal or informal trade and communication among neighbouring African countries.

The Aims and Objectives of the Study
The first aim and objective of this research on Informal Cross-border Trade (ICBT) in the Southern African Development Community is to investigate the initiatives taken by the informal cross-border traders to dismantle the colonial structure’s dominance vis a vis regional integration among the 14 SADC member states in general and the mainland member countries. The general membership of the Southern African development Community consists of Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The study, however, focuses on four mainland SADC member countries: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. Zambia is the focal point of the research because of its central position and its long experience with economic challenges. The second objective of this research work is to explore the activities of ICBTs or micro cross-border traders (MCBTs) in the four SADC member states. Thirdly, the work examines the presence of ICBT. The study aims to determine the volume of trade involved. Fourthly, the research attempts to find out the contributions that the MCBTs make to the economies of four former British Colonies of Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, all mainland member states of SADC. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, the study explores the hypothesis that the struggles of the ICBTs contribute to the mission of integrating SADC member states and facilitating intra-trade. The vital role of the ICBTs is to dismantle the structure of trade dominance biased toward the former colonial nation states of Belgium, Britain, Portugal and recently the United States of America and Japan. As far as Zambia is concerned, the focus is on the southern and the eastern corridors. The first and perhaps the most important corridor trade for the Zambian informal traders is that of South Africa and Zimbabwe. Due to the political and economic dominance of South Africa and recently Zimbabwe, the Zambian micro entrepreneurs have often turned to the south for business activities. However, there is also evidence that Malawi micro traders also trade with Zambia on the eastern corridor. This is why the research deemed it necessary to also explore informal trade on the Zambian eastern corridor.

The raison d’être for and main question of the study is the mission of the SADC, which, is to promote social, economic and political integration in the region. The fundamental question is, have the SADC member states formally put in place trade policies and protocols to facilitate the ICBTs? The second assumption is that the ICBTs are agents of SADC in promoting and facilitating economic integration and SADC common market. Generally, the economies of the SADC nation states are small and dependent economies. Because of the colonial legacies, varying natural endowments and environmental vicissitudes and consequently national economies are not self-reliant. The economies of SADC countries are and should be dependent on each other. Thus the advancement of social, economic and political integration cannot be achieved by the superstructures established by the heads of nation states and formal business entrepreneurs in the regions. The SADC mission will be realized with the participation of ordinary citizens of the region. The last assumption is that given the high rate of unemployment in SADC member countries, the ICBTs constitute a significant tool for creating self-employment and generating income.

Methods of Data Collection
The data for this research on SADC and Informal Cross-border trade were collected from three sources: (1) the study of written records and review of literature, (2) two purposive samples of ICBTs and customs officers and (3) case studies. Naturally, the principal and assistant researchers observed the volume of the ICBT goods ferried by buses and the activities of the MCBTs and the customs officials. The written documents on formal trade and informal trade, and scholarly works provided the background knowledge and conceptualization of the study. In the survey methods of data collection, we interviewed 147 ICBTs who imported and exported their goods through the southern and eastern trade corridors. We selected four border posts on the southern corridor of Chirundu, Kariba, Victoria Falls and Kazungula. Research assistants at their stands interviewed the 147 MCBTs or stores in the informal markets of towns near the border posts. The principal researcher recruited research assistants from the University of Zambia and from the nongovernmental organizations operating at border posts in question. The criteria for a person to be chosen as research assistant were based on her/his knowledge and skills in interviewing and knowledge of ICBTs business. The second sample for interview and discussions consisting of 28 people was drawn from the customs officers at the selected border posts. The government customs workers gave us the trade protocols, customs declaration procedures and regulations. The national governments entrusted customs officers to collect import customs duty, excise and VAT. Lastly, the principal researcher conducted in-depth interviews and discussion with eight prosperous ICBTs at the COMESA market in Lusaka. The established informal traders gave us important insights into the difficulties encountered. The major challenge they face is that national governments do not recognize and facilitate the MCBT. The trade protocols applied to the small scale traders are those designed for the formal traders. SADC as a regional organization has established trade protocols for the informal cross-border trade. Through the in-depth discussions with the established traders, we found that the informal cross-border trade has a niche in the creation of the SADC common market.

The rationale for this research design was based on the findings of the pilot study. The pilot study revealed that the ICBT is a sensitive study. The customs workers believe that that there is little difference between ICBTs and smugglers. By evading import duty, import excise and VAT, the smugglers refuse to contribute to the national revenue. Unlike the smugglers, the ICBTs declare their goods at the port of entry but they are unwilling to pay the tariff to the national revenue. According to the customs officer, the MCBTs undervalue the prices of goods so that they pay less tariffs. The customs workers believe that informal traders obtain false receipt so that they are charged less customs tariff at the border posts. Thus the attitude of customs officials towards the smugglers is similar to their attitude towards the smugglers. The MCBTs on their part do not trust the customs officers. They think that custom workers overcharge the import tariffs imposed on their merchandise. The ICBTs do not understand why the national governments impose import tariffs on their small quantities of goods. The port of entry, therefore, is a contested terrain between the ICBTs and the government workers. We, therefore, realized that the border posts are not favourable environment for the interview of ICBT.

The study on the informal cross-border trade designed the three samples to ascertain the findings. It has been able to compare the responses of the traders with those of the customs officers and discovered the paradox of the SADC integration without the participation of the ordinary “regional citizens”. The SADC mission remains a dream of the political class.

The premises of this study are the colonial era, the struggles for political liberation, ethnic relationships and socio-economic network experiences. Besides these common socio-economic experiences, the SADC member countries share geographical borders that cut across ethnic traditional kingdoms and culture. Thus the peoples of the region, despite belonging to different citizenships, are one people who share common cultures or ways of life. Elements that divide the peoples of the region are creation of colonial and foreign structure of dominance. In establishing SADC in 1980, nine heads of states and governments of independent states started the formal process of integrating the peoples of the region. Today SADC consist of 14 member states. Does SADC facilitate the movement of people and goods in the region? This is the fundamental question of the research. Specifically, is SADC an instrument for the promotion of informal cross-border trade?

The study has established the existence of a robust informal cross-border trade in mainland SADC countries of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa despite the challenges imposed by the modern nation states regimes. Two push factors account for the existence of intra-SADC trade. First, the micro traders engage in this trade for two fundamental reasons: the widespread unemployment and the shortages of essential goods in the region. We have argued that the chronic unemployment has been caused by external economic structural adjustment policies of the IMF and the World Bank. The policies have forced national governments to dismantle or privatize industries that provided employment to people. The privatization programmes have left urban dwellers with no other source of income. The rural urban migrants come to urban areas where there is no wage employment for livelihood.

The study, therefore, identified the need for sources of urban livelihood as the key motivation for micro trade. The majority of the trans-border informal traders lack wage employment. The social economic profiles of MCBTs are not important in this business enterprise. We have shown that most of the ICBTs have little formal education skills for them to be able to compete in an environment of selective wage employment. The majority of the traders attained secondary school level of education, which is insufficient to earn them a good wage employment and adequate source of income. Paradoxically, level of education has no significant role to play in small-scale trade business activities. The traders’ levels of formal education do not determine the nature of cross-border trade.

Secondly the study demonstrates that the sources of funding for launching and, sustaining cross-border trade are usually drawn from the personal and family savings. A small number of MCBTs apply and qualify for loans from financial institutions. The ICBTs do not qualify for bank loans. As the family savings are meagre, the ICBTs import small quantities of goods. They transport their merchandise by public transport such as buses or coaches and or on foot. They carry, on average, three to four cartons, boxes and bags at one trade trip. These traders facilitate market liberalization and competitions in the SADC member countries. The traders, most importantly, import essential and scarce commodities into their countries. Because the traders need income, they import goods that would sell quickly in the markets and bring money quickly.
The SADC, as a formal regional organization, has not recognized the ICBT nor drawn up implementable trade protocols for the small scale cross-border traders (SSCBTs) in the region. Although heads of governments of SADC have signed trade protocols for the informal cross-border traders, the protocols can only be implemented on state-to-state agreement. No bilateral or state-to-state agreements have been signed. The protocols cannot be implemented on account of protectionist policies of member states. The border posts in the region are perceived as sources of national state revenue. But, it seems to us that the fundamental reason is the uneven economic development of SADC member states. For many governments with a narrow tax base, the formal and informal imports are sources of revenues. The customs officers are collectors of import revenue at the border posts from travellers. As the ICBTs enter and exit their countries through the official ports’ border posts, the customs workers collect tariffs from the MCBTs. In addition, government workers at border posts are enforcers of customs and immigration rules and regulations.

As already stated, the relationship between government customs workers at border posts and small scale cross-border traders is that of uncertainty or ambivalent. They do not trust each other. This relationship can be rectified by the government formal recognition of the informal cross-border traders as partners in regional economic integration. The governments of SADC member states have not established forum of dialogue between government workers and the ICBTs at the border posts. The MCBTs do not understand why they are charged import duties for the merchandise they bring into the country. The government workers at ports of entry do not explain to the ICBTs the volume goods that are exempt from import duty, sales import and VAT duties.

Finally, the study has shown that the ICBT is a safety net for the unemployed people in the region. The trade provides sources of income to people without wage employment. More importantly, the ICBT promotes entrepreneurship skills of people without formal education. The MCBT has a potential of transforming the traders into formal businessmen and women. We have argued that by distributing goods and services in the region, the ICBT promotes the mission of SADC and the creation of SADC common market and citizenry.

Chapter Overview
This study report is divided into seven Chapters. The first chapter on “The Political and Developmental Impact of Informal Cross-border Trade Economy in the Third World” consists of two sections: SADC in historical perspective, and the SADC developmental political economy. It outlines and examines the historical, political and socio-economic experiences, which the people in the region have shared and are sharing. The people and the region have been subjected to colonial structure of dominance or regime. The chapter illustrates how the people collectively struggled against colonial political dominations. Finally it argues that the political class formed SADC to integrate a region fragmented by foreign political and economic domination.

Chapter Two, The Rise and Development of the Second Trade Economies, traces the factors that ushered the rise of the urban second economy in general and urban street trading in particular. The chapter describes the similarities between urban informal trade and informal cross-border trade. The two types of trade entrepreneurship are products of the underdeveloped political economy. The chapter discusses the unique characteristics and challenges of the informal cross-border trade (ICBT). The goods imported into a country by ICBTs are regulated by import and customs protocols. Paradoxically, the constraints on the free movement of persons and goods in the region are imposed by the political class, the architect of SADC as an instrument of socio-economic integration. The chapter illustrates how SADC has not yet recognized the ICBT.

Chapter Three, Research Design and Methodology, discusses the strategies employed in the process of data collection for the research on informal cross-border trade in SADC. It discusses the two corridors from which the data were drawn and the raison d’être for choosing the two routes. The chapter further outlines the three samples for interviews: the purposive sample for ICBTs, the sample for the customs officers and the sample for in-depth interviews. The chapter argues that the attitudes of ICBTs and government workers towards the industry persuaded the researchers to interview ICBTs at the markets nearer the border posts. It shows that customs officers were interviewed at their border posts.

Chapter Four, The Structure and Characteristics of Cross-border Traders, analyzes the socio-economic characteristics of the ICBTs. It discusses the biological individuality of the respondents: their sex, marital status, levels of formal education, migration patterns and their employment profiles. The chapter explores the impact of level of education on employment search and opportunities. Finally, it examines the impact of education on the nature of ICBT.

Chapter Five, The Goods for Informal Cross-border Trade, investigates the motives that pushed the ICBTs into that trade. The responses of the traders informed that unemployment in their countries pushed them into the hazardous ICBTs. The chapter shows that MCBTs had been in insecure and casual wage employment. In the absence of secure wage employment, the ICBT had no other choice but engage in the small scale cross-border trade. The chapter also depicts the reluctance of the traders to reveal the nature of goods they imported into their countries. It observes that the ICBT trade merchandises flow mainly from South Africa to the northern territories of SADC member states

Chapter Six, Financial and Marketing Management, explores the sources of finance or investment for the initial and sustainable development of the business. It illustrates the responses of ICBTs on sources of investments. The chapter observes several indices on cross-border trade and examines the relationship between level of education and access to financial institutions. It investigates the origin of MCBT goods and the ICBTs marketing strategies in home countries.

Lastly, Chapter Seven, Conclusion: Discussion and Policy Recommendations, summaries the findings of the research on the SADC and informal cross-border trade. It discusses the nature and narratives of the informal cross-border traders. The chapter describes which people engage in small scale cross-border trade and overall discusses the role of informal cross-border trade on the SADC economies. The trade promotes and facilitates intra SADC trade and breaks the colonial or foreign structures of the business. It shows how the ICBTs are agents for the promotion of SADC common market. Finally, the chapter outlines the policy recommendation for SADC political class.

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