HARARE – As the economy continues to take a nosedive, vendors have re-emerged on the streets of Harare as they are now openly displaying their wares on CBD pavements.
In recent weeks, vendors had deserted the CBD after police issued a ban on all public gatherings and illegal food vending following the cholera outbreak in September which killed over 54 people.
Following the ban, police launched a blitz on all vendors, confiscating their wares and forcing them into night vending.
A survey conducted by the Daily News revealed that vendors are back on the streets and are openly displaying their wares during the day as the police seems to have relaxed their blitz.
In an interview with the Daily News, National Vendors Association of Zimbabwe chairperson Sten Zvorwadza said it was a matter of time before vendors reemerged as vending was their only source of income.
Zvorwadza said the vendors were forced back onto the streets by the harsh economic situation being experienced in the country.
“Informal economy workers were chased away from the streets without corresponding strategies to enable them to survive outside the streets. Chasing them was just a waste of time. Vendors are not back on the streets by choice, they are trying to earn a living,” Zvorwadza said.
He said vendors require support on how to survive outside the streets, adding that government has failed to appreciate this as evidenced by its deployment of security forces to chase them out.
Survival Vendors Union of Zimbabwe vice chairperson Obey Mwariwangu echoed the same sentiments, saying vendors were prematurely chased from the streets without providing an alternative.
“We have nowhere to go as our lives are on the streets. It defies logic that the very system that forced us onto the streets is chasing us away. Where do they expect us to go? We are not radicals that are defying government orders. We are just trying to earn a living,” said Mwariwangu.
Mwariwangu also attributed the re-emergence of vendors to inadequate designated vending bays. “Coca-Cola and Coventry bays do not have the capacity to accommodate all vendors in Harare,” he said.
As the ZRP moved to evict vendors from the city, clashes broke out and police had to use teargas and batons to quell the skirmishes. Vendors fought back, pelting stones at uniformed police officers as they resisted the raiding of their vending stalls.