As vendor representatives and 14 others remain in custody following a police crackdown on illegal street traders, Midlands Show Society President Pascal Muringani has urged both government and the business to embrace vending as a new strategy to spur economic revival.
Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko opens the annual showcase, where his presidium counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa is patron, this Saturday. With all ZANU (PF) roads that day eventually leading to First Lady Grace Mugabe’s $2000-a-seat 50th birthday party, Mphoko is expected to grace the event quite early, and also leave the same way.
Speaking to Gweru journalists in Gweru at a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Muringani said the vending crisis is actually a great opportunity for business.
“I would like to view them (vendors) as budding entrepreneurs. Instead of government and businesses looking at them as a menace, we can help the budding entrepreneurs by viewing them as a market zone,” Muringani said.
He added that vendors had ‘survival skills’ and ‘were hardworking people who push and distribute products,’ the reason government needed to look at vending as a new market zone, and ‘a chance to strengthen the economy.’
He also revealed that the Midlands Show had set aside 61 stalls for flea market operators to exhibit their wares as a way of recognising them at this year’s business extravaganza. Big corporates have shied away from this year’s event, partly maybe because of the ongoing Mine-Entra in Bulawayo. A mere 142 corporates will grace the show, with only 13 new players coming on board.
The Veterinary Services Department has also banned the exhibition of cattle at the show in an effort to curb the spread of foot and mouth disease that hit parts of the Midlands since May.
Last year a record 29,000 people attended the 89th edition of the Annual Agricultural Showcase.