Long-term solutions needed on vendors

HARARE - The latest move by the Zanu PF-led government to use the military to forcibly remove street vendors from cities and towns is ill-conceived and must be condemned in the strictest of terms.

While we do not condone illegal vending on street pavements, as it does not only pose a health and moral hazard to pedestrians but also affects revenue for retailers, it must be noted that the mushrooming of vendors all over the country is a result of Zanu PF’s failed economic policies. Therefore it is Zanu PF that must find a solution to the eyesore vending on the streets of our main cities.

It is clear that government is directly responsible for the current and dire national economic state of affairs by failing to create jobs.

The joke doing the rounds is that Zanu PF has created two million vendors instead of the two million jobs they promised during the 2013 campaign.

These policies have over the years led to massive private sector retrenchments, lack of social service delivery, unprecedented high costs of living, repression of trade unions and the introduction of an economic patronage system based on political affiliation.

The end result has been the current situation in which thousands of our country’s citizens are left with no choice but to undertake informal economic activities while millions resort to seeking greener pastures across our borders.

It is a sad reality that for years, unlicensed vendors have been a common sight on most of the major streets in Zimbabwe’s main cities, but with the economic situation further deteriorating and policy makers sleeping on duty, they have now literally taken over city centres and practically turned them into jungles where every virtue is trampled underfoot.

Litter from some of the vendors’ merchandise like green mealies, banana peels are thrown everywhere and together with rotting vegetable matter this has become both an eyesore and a potential health disaster.

The litter exposes residents to diseases especially during the rainy season.

But by threatening to forcibly remove vendors using both the police and army is not the solution.

It now seems like Zanu PF wants to deny responsibility for its mismanagement, corruption and misrule of the country’s economy in the last 35 years by simply pushing vendors away without providing alternative routes.

While government claims that it has developed designated vending markets in cities, the truth of the matter is that in a country where more than half of the citizens are vendors, the allocated market spaces won’t be enough to cater for all the vendors.

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