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Are street vendors a disguised black market?

MUTARE – There is an upsurge of street vendors selling various wares on Main Street a phenomenon which signifies black market activities, an outspoken war veteran has said.

These vendors sell virtually every vegetable, small electronic appliances, domestic goods, groceries, traditional herbs, second hand clothes and shoes among other things.

Some vendors offer cell phone repair services on the street.

Ivan Mbengo, President of Meikles Park Informal Traders Association said this trend is reminiscent of the hyperinflationary period when goods flooded the black market.

Mbengo believes it can only be stopped by political will of those in control through sound economic institutions and policies which can drive economic growth.

Asked on whether government was responsible Mbengo said, “Government has sent these people to the streets. It is quite embarrassing to say the least. The government should stop this nonsense they should sit down and discuss how to stimulate growth.”

IMG-20150501-WA0006To arrest this unprecedented surge of vendors Mbengo said government should appoint a national economic commission of retired bankers, financial gurus and technocrats to push policy analysis, monitoring and implementation.

He said government failed to heed to this call, which was part of the major proposals of the GPA.

“They (government) failed to set up a national economic commission one of the prerequisites of the GPA which would have provide much-needed policy analysis, implementation and monitoring and evaluation to avoid situations like that of civil servants bonuses.

“That economic commission could have never allowed for this policy discord we have at the moment, looks at the civil servants bonuses saga, it’s embarrassing to say the least.

“Look at this (pointing to street vendors on the streets) it’s the return of the black market just disguised as street vendors. Is this the direction we want to take? Some of these people earn next nothing some of them below $100.” he said.

According to a FinScope Consumer Survey Zimbabwe 2014 authored by Obert Maposa, at least 65% of adults personally earn $100 or less per month (including ‘no income’) mainly due to lack of financial access.

The survey further records that at least 66% of households are involved in farming – 28% of them farm mostly for selling their produce; with maize, tobacco, and vegetables bringing the most income. It also records that 50% of adults claim farming as a source of income, with 36% claiming it to be their main source of income.IMG-20150501-WA0005

Furthermore the survey states that 22% of adults either earn their living from buying and selling, self-employment and or piece jobs.

Mbengo, who claims to have authored the Global Political Agreement, said he advised government to set up an economic commission to give policy direction to stimulate sustainable economic growth.

He said government’s conflicting stance on civil servants bonuses as a reflection of policy inconsistencies which discourage foreign direct investment into the country.

“I wrote the Global Political Agreement (GPA). I was vetted by the President’s office and I gave that document to Bonyongwe (Central Intelligence Office, Director General). I even went to the defence intelligence and gave them that document.

“I came up with the term inclusive to show that as a nation it was better to move together within a prospering economy,” he said.

The GPA saw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between three political parties ZANU PF and two MDC formations to form a Government of National Unity (GNU).

Dr Solomon Mungure of the Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance at Africa University said this vending was a manifestation of a failed economy, fueled by the death of local industries.

He said when planning, government should factor in these changes, of a dual economy, to ensure hard hit citizens are catered for.

“A couple of years ago we had well above 50% of our people who were employed in the formal sector but the formal sector has just collapsed essentially we have transformed into a new economy you can call it subsistence or vendor economy but it’s in a commercial economy.

“The problem with the current situation is that we may be anticipating that Border Timbers is there, Cairns is there, Tanganda is there.

“We should actually reorient and understand how the social engineering of the city has occurred in order to understand how implement urban development measures otherwise if we go by the old euphoria that Zimbabwe is a successful economy we have heavy industry we might be lost,” he said.

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