Stop harassing vendors

HARARE - As Zimbabwe marked Workers Day yesterday, there was a group of people in the informal sector that did not join the festivities as they continued working.

Amid high unemployment and the rise of the informal sector as the major employer, our Community Affairs Editor Margaret Chinowaita  took to the streets of Harare to speak to vendors on Workers’ Day.

Tawanda Hwema, 19, electrical goods vendor

“On a good day, I can take home $50 and on a bad day I make $20. I work hard six days a week and rest on a Friday when I attend church.

“I am  aware of Worker’s Day but I cannot afford to be away from this vending point. I cannot afford to take two days off in a week. I am okay as I am, I don’t need anything else but I am challenged by the city council officials that are always at our back.

“The council should designate a place where vendors can trade freely. But this has a flip side as  customers are found on the streets and going to a centralised place would affect business.”

Tafadzwa Mwanza, 34, music CD vendor

“We are not workers, we work for ourselves. As vendors, we cannot be classified as workers. Workers’ Day used to be important years ago when industry was performing. I got out of formal employment in 2007 and since then I have been vending.

“It is painful that I am vending despite being an ‘A’ Level graduate.

“The conduct of Harare City Council police that harasses vendors on the streets is bad. The municipality must learn from other countries how vendors are treated.

In some cities in Mozambique, vendors pay an average of $1 to $2 to sell their wares on the streets during the day, the council should emulate this.  

“I would prefer to be employed in the formal sector rather than vending on the streets.”

Godfrey Kanyundura, 31, book vendor

“Workers Day is a good day for those that are employed because they get time to rest. But for some of us in informal employment it is not a good thing because every hour counts in our occupation. Once I go away, I lose money.

“The council is the problem in our trading as they are always after us. The municipal police fine vendors $5 for selling on the streets and sometimes they confiscate our wares.  But we keep on returning on the street undeterred by the police because this is our livelihood. Our families depend on this vending.”

Tariro Zhangazha, 30, vendor

“I come to work every day so I can provide my family with rentals and food. I can’t get formal employment and this is what I really want. Industry should open up so that we can work. I hope leaders of workers also discuss the challenges of lack of employment.”


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