20 000 vendors occupy Harare CBD

HARARE - Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (Viset) says the number of vendors flocking to Central Business Districts (CBDs) to search for livelihoods continues to swell with an estimated 20 000 street vendors occupying the streets of Harare at present.

Viset said while this number continues to increase, vending space does not increase and this has resulted in vendors occupying pavements, entrances to shops and other unorthodox places thus exposing cities to health and other hazards.

Yesterday, November 14 was International Vendors Day and Viset said this was a day to reflect on their challenges as street vendors, achievements thus far and aspirations for the coming years.

The organisation believes that while government has a responsibility to decongest the cities and confine vending to designate sites, this has to be done in a manner that does not infringe on street vendors’ right to livelihoods.

“Harare has shown positive signs in this regard by the construction of the Sunshine Bazaar along Simon Mazorodze and the intended construction of the Eastgate Mall Vendors mall.

“Such measures have to be expedited and implemented extensively in all other cities, as this will surely amicably rid cities of illegal vending activities.”

Viset said worldwide, vendors account for an average of 20 percent of the total employment while in Zimbabwe, they account for over 90 percent of the urban jobs.

“We are thus an integral part of the world's urban economy, contributing to vibrant retail markets and providing an array of affordable, accessible goods and services to the urban poor consumers.”

The organisation said 2016 has not been an easy year for street vendors.

“Despite the existence of an archaic legislative regime that inhibits vending, the State arbitrarily passed statutory instrument S164/16 that effectively bars vendors from importing certain goods, most of which are key to our trade in Zimbabwe.

“As if that is not enough, the imminent introduction of bond notes will make the importation of goods by vendors even more difficult.”

Viset said arrests, imprisonment, and prosecution of hundreds of street vendors also characterised the year.

“Our goods were confiscated and some of us were assaulted. Municipal police officers solicited bribes from us, which ranged from cash to kind.

“Some of our female colleagues reported sexual harassment and abuse wherein they had to provide sexual favours in return for their confiscated goods or for places in designated vending sites.”

Government has deliberately hindered their efforts at consolidation through unionism and their right to protest.

“Viset wishes to take this opportunity to implore our government to open up more democratic space for dialogue and engagement with us rather than criminalising our activities.

“Vendors are small businesses that, if granted adequate and appropriate support, such as access to finance, profitable markets, skills development, can aurally grow their businesses and become macro-entrepreneurs.”

Comments (2)

Government needs to focus its energies on agriculture. This sector can creat jobs for thousands of Zimbabweans! One of the most blessed and beautiful countries and its been run to the ground by our idiotic goverment. so sad

Young Zimbo - 15 November 2016

The economy is not important, that's why we focus on research on how many days Joice Mujuru was trained for combat during the liberation struggle in pursuit of discrediting her. That's more important.

XG - 16 November 2016

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