Savanna 'licences' cigarette vendors

HARARE - Cigarette maker Savanna Tobacco (Savanna) has secured vending licences for its hawkers from the Harare City Council, meaning the company has passed the test for its statutory instrument (SI) 264 of 2002 compliance measures.

The development comes after a four-month stand-off between the company’s vendors, police and municipal authorities.

Although Savanna came into existence well after the key legislation was enacted, company chief operations officer Tongesai Zvaravanhu said yesterday they were committed to ensuring that all its business and operational facets were within the law.

“Savanna has become the first cigarette company in Zimbabwe to support its vendors (in this way), thus demonstrating its commitment to empowerment, compliance and its consumers,”  he told the Daily News on the sidelines of a handover function in Harare on Friday.

“Savanna (and presumably Breco) remains one of the few companies… to provide legally compliant products to the stick market, which accounts for 60 percent-plus of cigarettes sold in Zimbabwe,” Zvaravanhu said, adding the measures were aimed at “legalising their service and keep helping their key stakeholders to continue earning a decent living” after the recent crackdowns.

The licensing programme, which is set to benefit vendors in Harare’s high density suburbs, are valid for one year.

Savanna also says it will be giving its vendors some apparel to “ensure that they are visible in the market, synonymous with hygienic and well-packaged products”.

Angela Mutume, a Mbare vendor, said she could now sell her cigarettes freely without run-ins with the authorities.

“In January, my cigarettes were confiscated by the police because they said l was not compliant with the law. But now that l have been licensed, l can rest assured that they will not be bothering me,” she said.
Another vendor Sheila Kanengoni, who has been in the cigarette-selling business for over 10 years, said she was now comfortable with her trade.

The development also comes as police authorities have ratcheted up seizures of an assortment of imported cigarettes on the grounds that they violated various provisions of the 12 year-old law and public health regulations.

The products, which include British American Tobacco’s Dunhill brand, are reportedly lean on labelling and health-warning issues.

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