By Joyce Mukucha
The Vendors Initiative for Social Economic Transformation (VISET) and Citizens Manifesto urged the Government to offer vendors alternative sites to carry out their trade without arresting or prosecuting them.
The two organisations condemned the ultimatum which gives vendors and pirate taxi operators 48 hours to vacate the streets in all towns and cities.
They said Government must imitate other countries where the vending challenge was ameliorated cordially without arresting or prosecuting vendors.
Speaking during a press conference held in Harare today Mr Samuel Wadzai Mangoma, the Executive Director of VISET said government must recognise the rights of vendors as citizens of the country.
“We need a situation in a country where we can have a value chain where everyone comes on board and if these vendors are promoted and get employment it means more people will be removed from the streets. Vendors on the streets are citizens of Zimbabwe who need to be respected and involved,” he said.
In a statement, VISET and Citizens Manifesto said it is government’s responsibility to grant adequate and appropriate support such as access to finance, profitable markets and skills development to vendors so that they can grow their own businesses and become macro-entrepreneurs.
Mr Briggs Bomba, the Citizens Manifesto convener emphasised that such move by council and the security forces was ridiculous, inhuman, brutal and runs contrary to the constitutional national objective.
“The ultimatum pronounced by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing is against the national objective which obliges the state and all its agencies to promote private initiatives of self-reliance (Section 13) and that which obliges it to remove the restrictions that prevent people from working or otherwise engaging in gainful economic activities (Section 24),” he said.
He added that the ultimatum and threats will only worsen the already precarious situation. It also violates human rights in that municipal police officers solicit for bribes. On the other hand, female vendors are reported to be sexually harassed while their goods are often confiscated.
The Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations Secretary General Mr Wirbson Malaya said Government must not apply force to vacate vendors from the streets but should rather wait until the completion of the construction of designated sites for vendors.
VISET urged the city of Harare and other local authorities throughout the country to do an assessment in respect of the consequences on the livelihoods to millions of vendors and their dependents the evictions will cause.
This week, VISET said, will meet the Ministry of Local Government and the Mayor of Harare with a view to find a more humane alternative to the intended evictions.