Business as usual for Harare vendors

HARARE - It was business as usual for street vendors in Harare’s central business district (CBD) by noon yesterday, despite a ban by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) who are fearful of cholera spreading.

The Harare City Council (HCC) took a relaxed stance, noting that it was waiting for the vendors to move voluntarily.

HCC corporate communications manager Michael Chideme told the Daily News that council will not use force on the vendors.

“We are engaging them so that they may move voluntarily; we are not taking the confrontational stance,” said Chideme.

On Wednesday, ZRP banned public gatherings in Harare and food vending in the capital city’s CBD, Glen View and Budiriro suburbs in light of the cholera outbreak.

In a statement, ZRP spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba appealed to members of the public to take heed of the warning and cooperate as this will assist in alleviating the spread of the disease that has been declared a state of emergency.

Yesterday morning, street vendors in the CBD continued with their activities.

Vendors who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity vowed not to leave the streets, pleading with government to fix the economy and create jobs.

A 37-year-old mother of four said she and her spouse have been vending in the city centre since 2009.

“We are not here by choice; if jobs are availed we will obviously prefer to be employed formally. Otherwise this is a painful means of earning a living,” she said.

Another vendor at Copacabana said there is no option but to continue vending, noting that their removal from the streets will only break-up families.

“We have no alternative; where will we go; it means we won’t even be able to pay school fees. We don’t have other means of earning a living. Obviously, my wife will be angry if I come home with nothing; how will we survive? This move will only break-up marriages,” he said.

“Government is not doing enough to help us. If they create jobs we will leave the streets. Cholera is only here because of them, they are failing to solve our problems. Yes there is cholera but we still need to fend for our families.”

A fruits vendor trading along First Street said they were relieved that the authorities were not interfering with their activities so far.

“We have been here since morning and the police have not confronted us. We plead with the authorities to bear with us and help us find alternative ways to provide for our families. There are no jobs out there,” he said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been promising jobs since his rise to power in November last year.

Last week, industrialists called for the removal of vendors on the streets, following several reports of fake and expired products flooding the streets of Harare.
They called for societal order prior to introduction of economic reforms.

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