May Day Statement

Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) join hands with workers across the world and indeed their representative unions in commemorating Workers Day. This year’s celebrations will be held under the theme, “Stop The COVID-19 Pandemic – Scale Up Social Protection & Dialogue, Save Jobs and Pay a Living Wage” This year’s edition is being held at a dark time in the existence of the working class and indeed the entire world due to the COVID 19 pandemic. It is a time where health personnel have been called upon to put in shifts well beyond the regular in attempting to keep the world safe. We indeed take a bow to all these and other essential services that are working tirelessly to stem the ravages of this pandemic.

In Zimbabwe, much like the rest of the nations of the world, we have not been spared the effects of this disease and indeed much like the world over, we are presently in the midst of a Government declared lockdown.

However that is where our similarities end, because whilst during the time of lockdown other nations are ensuring that policies are enacted to cushion the vulnerable as well as the working class whose incomes have been adversely affected, here we have instead witnessed a systematic assault on livelihoods of street vendors and members of the informal sector. It goes without saying that, after years of disastrous and inconsistent policymaking, the informal sector has become the biggest employer in the Zimbabwean economy. Daily accounts are told of destruction being undertaken of market stalls countrywide using the convenience of the COVID-19 inspired lockdown.

It should be noted that as VISET a significant number of our members are actually workers and civil servants who have resorted to vending as a means to augment their scanty salaries.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade unions (ZCTU) and VISET have a relationship that is profound due to the fact that we both have membership whose rights are at constant attack by the Government of the day. We both seek a safe and conducive work environment as well as the right to protest in pursuance of the ideals of our membership. However, such rights as enshrined even in the national constitution have been criminalized. We wholeheartedly support the ZCTU in their efforts to improve the lives of workers through the fight for salaries that are cognisant of the fact that the consumer basket is, in truth, indexed against the US Dollar.

As VISET we would like to take this opportunity to remind the authorities that, as an organization our belief is that we need to have a collaborative approach to issues of common interest such as regulation of the informal sector. We yearn to play a pivotal role in the turnaround of the country’s fortunes, through people-anchored policymaking and implementation.

To our fellow comrades in the struggle we say Shinga Mushandi Shinga, Qina Sisebenzi Qina!

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

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