Centre News Reporter.
Masvingo Street vendors joined the rest of the world in commemorating International Street Vendors Day on Tuesday and castigated the local authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police for giving them a torrid time by chasing and arresting them when they ply their trade to fend for their families in the streets.
The vendors say despite contributing to the national economy through their work, the local authorities and the police continue to harass them through unnecessary arrests and confiscation of their goods.
“We are always playing the cat and mouth game with the ZRP and the municipal cops, they chase us from our selling points and arrest us sometime they just take away the products that we sell. This is affecting us because we survive on selling since we are not employed,” said Molly Sitali who trades her ware at Pick and Pay pavement.
Celebrating under the international theme, to bring the centrality of street vending to world economies whilst creating an opportunity for vendors to reflect on their challenges, achievements, and opportunities, vendors say the informal sector in the country has since replaced the formal sector hence they must be allowed to trade freely.
During the commemorations Street vendors accused the responsible authorities for promoting their suffering in their daily operations.
Another vendor who preferred anonymity said “There is need for the council to allocate vending places which are near Bus Terminus as there is a better pedestrian movement which can add value to their sales”
Furthermore, vendors pointed out that the disputes between them and city fathers are a result of not being heard in terms of profitable space allocation, limited space for selling their products, lack of formalizing of their work space and unfair tariffs in terms of licensing fees.
Masvingo City Council, Public Relations Officer, Ashley Jinjika, said she could comment on the issue of vendors especially on a day they were celebrating their day.
She however said they expect vendors to respect by laws that govern their scope of work.
“As Council we encourage them to be traders operating at designated places. We discourage Street vending according to our by-laws (City of Masvingo Vendors and Hawkers By-law),” Jinjika said.
Efforts to get a comment from acting Masvingo provincial Police spokesperson, Lorraine Ndlovhu were fruitless as her phone went unanswered.
In an interview with Centre News, Executive Director of Vendors Initiative for Social Economic Transformation (VISET), Samuel Wadzai, and VISET urged the local authorities and vendors to find each other.
“We urge the local authorities responsible for the confiscation of vendors products, arrests and other violations to desist from those actions”.
Wadzai appealed to the local authority to come up with policies that supports the formalization of the street vending sector and to create a safe space for Street vendors.
Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ), Dr Godfrey Kanyenze said vendors are contributing 88% of the Gross Domestic Product of the economy since the informal sector has outgrown the formal sector in the country.
He said working with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and government of Zimbabwe, LEDRIZ has been tasked to produce a road map to formalize the informal sector as the world over informal sector is taking over the reins.
“As we speak we are in the middle of drafting a road map to allow the transition of the informal sector , we will be formalizing it so that the sector is organized and it is protected by good policies and allow workers there to do collective bargaining and have social security like pensions,” said Dr Kanyenze.