BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Association (ZCIEA) Bulawayo chapter Tuesday called upon Local Government Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo to reverse his plan to evict vendors and informal traders from the streets in all cities and towns within seven days.
Chombo said law enforcement agents will be unleashed on vendors who continue to operate on the streets after the expiry of the ultimatum on Sunday.
ZICEA first vice president, Edward Manning, told journalists in Bulawayo that government must regularise the informal sector.
“We are shocked by this ultimatum and request the Honourable Minister to rethink this ultimatum and get sound policy advice on how the informal sector can be regularised while safe guarding citizen’s social and economic rights as guaranteed by the constitution of Zimbabwe,” said Manning.
This is not the first that Chombo has threatened to evict vendors and informal traders from the streets.
In February, Chombo ordered city mayors at a meeting in Bulawayo to flush out vendors and informal traders from their central business districts.
“All local authorities are therefore required to immediately take necessary measures to remove vendors from undesignated sites to alternative planned vending points,” Chombo ordered.
Manning said as long as new jobs are not created and investors come on board there will be more vendors and informal traders on the streets.
“The Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa has been quoted as admitting that the growth of the informal sector in our country is a symptom of economic decline in this country so for as long as we don’t have new jobs and investors, we will have more vendors and informal traders on our streets,” he said.
Manning said people had resorted to vending due to lack of jobs, as the economy continues to shrink.
“Vending and informal trading are now a livelihood coping mechanism that residents in cities are using to fend for their families. We also know that most cities have failed to invest in infrastructure for the informal sector and as a result the so called ‘designated sites’ are non-existent,
“We therefore call upon Minister Chombo to accept that street vending and trading are a reality of developing African cities that cannot be wished away but must be regularised” said Manning.
Manning also appealed to Bulawayo City Council (BCC) that vending areas in the city centre accommodate more vendors.
“In Bulawayo, as ZCIEA we are calling on the City Fathers to urgently expand street trade on the 5th Avenue to include the area between Joshua Nkomo and Jason Moyo streets. We are calling upon the Bulawayo City Council top permit vending in pavements with the width of 4 metros , vendors can use half the pavement say 2 metros while pedestrians use 2 metres,” he said.
Manning said the involvement of the army is meant to instil fear in the vendors.
“As vendors and informal traders, we are also shocked that the army has been called in to deal with vendors; we think this points to Operation Murambatsvina 2.
“The only security problems affecting Zimbabweans are job and food security and there requires the economic ministries and so we request that the army should be allowed to fulfil its constitutional obligations while municipal police check on vendors and informal traders,” said Manning.
Manning also called upon Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa to urgently advise the army to restrain themselves to their constitutional role and leave vendors and informal traders in the safe hands of municipal police.