Take a chill pill Mr President, vendors are your creation

Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) would like to condemn in the strongest of terms utterances by Mr Robert Mugabe, the current president of Zimbabwe, where he was urging the Ministers Chombo and Kasukuwere to remove what he christened “illegal vendors” from the central business district of Harare. Such a move is irrational, inhuman and barbaric apart from the fact that it runs contrary to the constitutional national objective which obliges the state and all its agencies to promote private initiatives of self-reliance and that which obliges it remove the restrictions that prevent people from working or otherwise engaging in gainful economic activities. Let it be stated here without fear or favour, that vendors are not going anywhere any time soon. As a reminder to the current President, we are in the streets not because we want but your administration’s Machiavellian macroeconomic policies have brought us to this stage. There is nothing illegal about vending because you created it Mr. President. In the same token, if vending is illegal then your continued occupancy of the office of President of Zimbabwe is both illegal and a joke.

We refer you to the constitution of Zimbabwe Section 64 which provides for the right to freedom of choice and practice of a trade or profession. Furthermore, Section 24 of the Constitution provides for the national objective of removing restrictions that inhibit people from working or otherwise engaging in gainful economic activities. Section 13 of the constitution obliges the government, which you purport to lead, to promote private initiatives and self reliance. The right to human dignity, right to food and right to life can all not be realized if people are denied opportunities to earn livelihoods. Street vendors provide valuable services to the urban population while trying to earn a livelihood and it is the duty of the State to protect the right of this segment of population to earn their livelihood.

VISET also implores the City of Harare (HCC) to take full responsibility for its failure to provide adequate designated sites for these traders. It has always been VISET’s position that forceful eviction of informal traders will not solve the current vending morass, where such eviction does not correspond to the allocation of alternative spaces in the designated sites. If anything, it will only exacerbate it, as was witnessed in the CBDs in 2015 where in most cases the operations resulted in ugly and bloody scenes and even unnecessary loss of life as a defense of a livelihood entails doing everything within one’s powers.

VISET is also baffled by remarks attributed to the Acting HCC acting town clerk Mrs. Josephine Ncube, another illegal office occupant, to the effect that vendors must move to designated sites as if the municipality is able to provide such sites. VISET implores the HCC to do an assessment in respect of the consequences on the livelihoods of over 100 000 people and their dependents the evictions will cause. In keeping with our strategy of peaceful engagement, VISET will negotiate with the HCC with a view to finding a more human alternative to the intended evictions but in the event that such doesn’t yield any positive results, the organisation will approach the courts. In the meantime, we urge the current President to take a chill pill, relax and allow us to work without disturbances.

Source: Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET)

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