HARARE - Vendors operating in Harare’s Central Business District (CBD) have been given a 48-hour ultimatum to cease operations as Harare City Council (HCC) moves to ban hawking.
The ban — formulated by a joint taskforce of ministries of Health, Local Government, Environment and Small to Medium Enterprises — is targeted at curbing the spread of typhoid.
This comes on the back of a typhoid outbreak in the high density suburb of Mbare which has so far claimed two lives while several others have been infected.
HCC acting town, clerk Josephine Ncube, said the city has been forced to take drastic measures to contain the disease.
“There are issues that we can immediately regulate to ensure that we contain the spread of typhoid. One of these is street vending,” she said.
“We are therefore issuing a 48-hour ultimatum to all illegal food vendors operating within the Harare metropolitan area to cease operations temporarily forthwith. The ban will be reviewed depending on improvements on the ground,” Ncube said.
She added that all pushcarts in the CBD will be impounded and all perishable foods including meat will be destroyed upon confiscation.
Since the outbreak began, HCC has treated 400 patients for suspected cases at its Mbare clinic while 22 confirmed cases were treated at the Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital.
Preliminary findings claim that the outbreak was a result of poor water supplies and uncontrolled vending of cooked and uncooked food stuffs.
Health minister David Parirenyatwa also advised that all boreholes in the capital should be tested as they may be contaminated.
Vendors have, however, vowed to challenge the ban.
National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) chairperson Sten Zvorwadza has said the only reason government had resorted to ban vending was because they have never taken responsibility for anything in the country.
He said government should look into the poor service delivery in local authorities before blaming vendors for the disease.
“The government has contributed a lot to poor service delivery than what the vendors have done to take charge of their lives.
“Surely, if all the millions of people who chose to be brave, leave their homes and come to the city of Harare had chosen to wait for government to create jobs, by now we would have million cases of people who would have starved to death,” Zvorwadza said.