By Evidence Chipadza and Partinella Ngozo
Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD ) has called upon government to regularize the informal sector as it is a major contributor to the country ‘s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Speaking at the International Street Vendors Day commemorations at Young Women Christian Association (YWCA ) in Gweru, ZIMCODD Programs Manager John Maketo underscored the need for government to urgently vendors address the growing disparities in the way the informal sector is being handled despite playing in crucial role in the realization of socio-economic rights in Zimbabwe.
“Government should regularize the informal traders because they are all traders ,in the interest of social and economic justice everyone has the right to equal opportunity on resources as stated in the constitution. Street vendors must be given designated places so that they conduct their businesses, “said Maketo.
Precious Mutumwa from Women ‘s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ ) highlighted on the plight of disabled women who are always chased in the streets by council police.
“We say no to raiding as we also want to survive in this harsh economy but Council continues to confiscate our goods. The disabled community who depend on vending are suffering .We are also left out on information dissemination,”said Mutumwa.
In Kwekwe ,Women Coalition of Zimbabwe young women’s Chamber forum members in partnership with Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Association represented by its Kwekwe Territorial President Melody Ndawana recently engaged Kwekwe Residents and Ratepayers Association and Markets Advisor Alex Homela. The young women approached Mr Homela who is the council advisor with one voice crying for the allocation of working spaces or market stalls to the vendors by Kwekwe City.
Speaking during the meeting which was organized by WCOZ Abigail Matare said that , council should avail vending spaces for women since most women were now operating as informal traders and are usually playing the cat and mouse game with local authority .
“Council should allocate proper vending spaces with ablution facilities to women at affordable rentals considering the role of women at family and community level especially in the midst of a recurring economic crisis. Municipal police have found easy prey on women whom they subject to physical, sexual and emotional harassment”, she said
Tied to this, Melody Ndawana encouraged council to decentralise markets as a way of empowering a number of women in various locations in Kwekwe.
“Markets should be decentralized because not everyone has access to Mbizo Extension (Mbizo 2).marketplace resulting in congestion of informal traders in town and other areas. Imagine someone coming from Mbizo 21 to buy good and farm produce in Mbizo 2. This is obviously time consuming and costly. One market for all residents does not work considering the surging demands for vending spaces in the city”, she said
Mr Homela concurred with the growing concerns from women that action needs to be taken to be inclusive of the the gendered dynamics as far as the promotion, realization and protection of socio-economic rights is concerned.
“As a council advisor I will definitely make sure that there is inclusion of women and youths in markets so that no one is left behind in operating vending spaces here in Kwekwe. Also have regrettably noted that some political parties also come with their lists of people trying to take over market places but as long I’m here the markets are open for everyone who is a resident of Kwekwe. We will not allow corrupt officials to disenfranchise the residents of Kwekwe from operating vending spaces. Unfortunately, last week a group of youths came here trying to intimidate me to give them spaces but I wouldn’t bow to political parties agenda of unfair distribution of vending spaces”
Homela said that so far they were 220 vendors who registered at the ME market which is currently the biggest market in Kwekwe with 3 composed of vegetable market,chicken market and clothing market. The residence association leader highlighted that they are targeting to have more than 1000 traders just like Mbare Musika .
“So far in Kwekwe we have the largest marketplace and I will be glad to engage council on behalf of women to get spaces considering that most women are breadwinners and are operating illegally. Such a move will also pay dividends to the local authority in terms of revenue collection”,he said