Give us an alternative or kill us, vendors

Scores of vendors who convened in Harare yesterday declared that they would not leave street pavements until municipalities across the country and government offer them alternative sources of income.

This was said at a public meeting organised by National Vendors Union Zimbabwe (NAVUZ).

The meeting was attended by members of civic society including Masvingo Residents Trust, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Combined Harare Residents Association among others.

Speakers who include Douglas Shumbayawonda, the Vice Chairperson of National Vendors Union Zimbabwe urged government to provide an alternative source of income for the vendors.

“We are gathered here as vendors to send a clear message to our government and local municipalities that they should create alternative sources of income for the vendors.

“It is not by choice that we are in the streets, tinotoshuvirawo kuva formally employed (We also itch to be formally employed) hurumende ngaitarise chikonzero chaita musoro uteme (government should look at the root cause of vending),” he said.

Vendors who consider themselves unemployed and who are also part of the 90 percent of Zimbabweans who are said to be unemployed said that vending is not the problem.

“Vending is not a problem, the problem is the economy. The problem with our government is that it takes vending as a problem,” said a vendor who identified himself as Cream.

Mfundi Mlilo, the Director of Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) said chasing vendors off the streets is an imitation of the repressive colonial policies.

“What we are seeing is a replication of colonialism in which people were not allowed in town. Let’s not break our independence by going back to colonial laws.

“We are surprised that Zanu PF as a colonial liberator is going back to colonial policies,” said CHRA boss adding that his organisation will stand in solidarity with vendors.

He also said that his organisation is against seeing vendors as a problem.

The skyrocketing levels of vendors replicate the reality of Zimbabwe’s economy.

The situation of flooding vendors on the pavements is replicated across the southern African nation’s towns and growth points. This state of affairs is a factor of a decade-long economic and political crisis that effectively shrunk the formal sector to such a point that re-establishing the formal economy will not be as easy as everyone would wish.

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