By Edward Mukaro
VENDORS who have started trickling back into the capital city’s streets and conducting business have implored the Government of Zimbabwe to put in place measures for vendors to adhere to Covid-19 preventative measures, in order for them to resume trading and fend for their families.
Zimbabwe’s bulk of employees are found in the informal sector bracket, of which, most of them are vendors who sell agricultural produce, second hand clothes and various foods products and other wares.
Speaking to the BusinessConnect crew in the capital’s central business district, one vendor who denied to named for various reasons said – despite Government’s ban on informal traders to conduct business in the central business district – he and many other vendors who are visible in their usual corners of business have been finding means to get into the city centre without the requisite papers to by-pass various police check-points, in order to fend for their families.
“At the onset of the lockdown, we tried to stay at home and adhere to the laws, but because of the need to put bread and butter on the table we have been forced to revert to what we do best, in order to fend for our families.
“So far we have no papers to get in town, but we are having to use other alternative means in order to get in the city to conduct business to feed our families,” he said.
The vendor, who was openly parading and selling his goods said there seems to be no solution between authorities and vendors alike, as time and again vendors are subjected to paying different licenses time with no clear justification from authorities.
“From the look of things, there is no solution to the battles between authorities and vendors. We used to sell our products using licensed carts, as it was a prerequisite before the lockdown commenced.
“Now we are being told government wants licenses and we are not sure, which types of licenses they want,” added the vendor.
The City of Harare has over the past decade been embroiled in cat and mouse battles with street vendors, which at times got messy as vendors would retaliate leading to the ‘city fathers’ roping in the uniformed forces to calm down tempers and forcefully ridding of vendors.
However, vendors have always somehow managed to mushroom back in the city centre, one way or the other.
During the lockdown imposed by government after consultations with the relevant health authorities, city fathers destroyed vendors stalls around the city in a calculated move to rid of unlicensed informal business players, a move which was met by an outcry from both informal workers associations and human rights watchdogs in the country.
Phase 2 of the national lockdown relaxed measures for business in the formal sector, who adhere and meet the required health levels to curb the spread of covid-19, but forbade informal sector players to resume operation, at least, for now.