Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) represented by its Executive Director, Samuel Wadzai, organized a “Talking Business with Informal Traders” dialogue session” at the recently ended Mandela Washington Fellowship retreat that was held in Bulawayo from Thursday the 21st of September to Sunday the 24th of September. The discussion session was organized in collaboration with Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association and was attended by 35 YALI Mandela Washington fellows, 32 vendors and informal traders operating in Bulawayo.
The session was an opportunity for Mandela Washington Fellows to appreciate and proffer solutions to the challenges faced by vendors in particular and informal traders in general operating in Bulawayo with the view to develop a shared strategy to tackle the same. Participants were then placed into five groups and engaged in three hours long conversations on the micro and macro challenges faced by vendors and how the challenges are affecting their ability to grow their businesses. The groups then came up with nine talking points as follows:
- That there is unrelenting attack and harassment of vendors by various law enforcement agents.
- Rise of illicit dealings perpetuated by some law enforcement agents.
- Sexual harassment of women vendors and informal traders.
- Lack of an enabling infrastructure regime, including ablution facilities.
- Lack of financial and material support from both the central government and the private sector
- Existence of outdated Bulawayo City By-Law crafted in 1976.
- Politicization of the allocation of vending sites.
- The unavailability of an engagement platform with solution holders.
- Lack of a legislative framework that deals with the informal sector.
As a way forward, it was agreed that a petition detailing the 9 talking points identified be crafted and delivered to all the relevant authorities. It was also agreed that the petition be signed by vendors operating in both the Central Business District and nearby Suburbs.
Source: Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET)