Police were justified to destroy vendors’ wares: Mavima

Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Paul Mavima says police were justified to burn vendors’ vegetables last week as the coronavirus (COVID-19) as a preventative measure against the spread of the pandemic.

Last week, vegetables and other wares belonging to vendors who disregarded the lockdown were confiscated and burnt by police in Mutare.

Police also launched an early morning raid on the vendors and confiscated threes tonnes of vegetables that were meant to supply hundreds of vendors at Sakubva vegetable market.

In an interview with CITE in Bulawayo on the sidelines of a meeting held at Ekusileni Hospital, Professor Mavima said there were designated places meant for vendors where the hygiene of both the place and wares was crucial.

“I think what has to be very clear, at this particular point in time no vendor should be at a place where they are not supposed to be. They are designated places for vending and these are places where the health of vendors and hygiene of even of the wares themselves, is important,” he said.

The minister warned that if caution was not exercised even in the handling of the wares, there could be transmission of the virus at a mass scale.

“Remember this virus can actually be transmitted through the wares and how they handle the wares can actually cause problems. A family comes to buy stuff that has already been contaminated then take it home where they have children and other relatives. Already we have transmission at a mass scale, so no vendor should be at place where they are not supposed to be at this particular point in time,” Prof Mavima reiterated.

He reminded the vendors to go to their designated places and explained the “destruction of wares, which have not been handled properly is one of the precautions that authorities should be taking because otherwise we are transmitting at a mass level.”

On the deployment of health personnel officers to man food markets and vending stalls as announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa while announcing the lockdown, Prof Mavima said that needed to be done urgently.

He noted that health personnel officers were trained how to deal with the public in handling themselves in light of COVID-19.

“I can’t say with certainty that (the deployment of the health personnel officer) has happened but what I can say is it needs to happen. It’s making sure those people who can lay the protocols and the behaviours people are supposed to engage in as they buy food are there. These are people who know how to maintain the protection and minimise the potential transmission. They have to be there so that we can minimise the transmission of this virus as much as possible,” said the social welfare minister.

Meanwhile, some vegetable markets have reopened for business after President Mnangagwa announced that farmers should bring their produce to the markets.

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE)