The ban on vendors in Harare CBD

Press Release
Economic Justice for Women Project(EJWP)

 

Economic Justice for Women Project condemns the heavy handedness and violent descent on vendors in the streets of Harare this past week. This move is a full testimony on the failure by the Zimbabwean government to acknowledge that vending is one of the only options available to the majority of citizens without access to capital and the limited mainstream economic opportunities. In a livelihood bid, vendors are left with no option besides scrounging for space in the highly populated Central business district (CBD) with a ready market. It is new space for marginalized groups to survive.

The government of the day needs to acknowledge the huge contribution of the informal sector to the national fiscus. The Medium Term Plan (2011-2015) estimated that the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector accounted for 60 percent of the gross domestic product and 50 percent of employment. A Finscope Survey established that there were 3,5 million (MSMEs) with an estimated turnover of US$7,4 billion (or 63,5 percent of gross domestic product) and employed 5,7 million According to the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA), 67% of this fast growing sector are women. It is vital to channel infrastructural, policy and legislative support as a growing sector without altering its convenience and accessibility. Vendors have helped stabilize prices of basic commodities as they have provided competition for the capitalist suppliers. Vendors in the CBD have conveniently brought goods and services to the people and are way cheaper.

As an organization envisioning Economic leadership and financial freedom among young women, we urge responsible authorities not to limit their sight only to a clean Harare, but to further their analysis on the impact of such a move on marginalized groups, particularly young women by being part of the institutions that promote empowerment. Our numerous Universities are churning out graduates every year and we are happy to note that the number of female graduates has increased remarkably over the decade. Also, we sadly note that industry closures have continued in the face of an ongoing economic meltdown, increasing the unemployment rates in Zimbabwe. EJWP views this move as purely capitalist, a bid by the government to return business to supermarkets in the CBD. Such capitalist motives have had tendencies to sacrifice the bulk of poor citizens living out of the affordable microeconomic sectors.

We acknowledge the need to restore Harare to the Sunshine city as was back in the day when the economy was still stable and productive and the bulk of citizens employed earning good incomes. Times have changed and focus needs to change as well. Our concerns are:

  1. Operation Restore order’ being enforced by the uniformed forces has seen women and children as the most casualties due to their vulnerability to such physical enforcement.
  2. The regularization may relocate vendors to places far and not readily accessible by their target market.
  3. This process will lead to an increase in the prices of fresh vegetables and other goods provided by vendors.

We therefore recommend that the government of Zimbabwe must deal with the root cause to this crisis, which has reduced Zimbabweans to vendors due to economic decay that has forced citizens into unemployment. The gender disparities, which we seek to address as a nation, will remain a pipe dream and far to accomplish, if we fail to acknowledge the gendered dynamics of our economy.

Lastly, we maintain that the blitz is a humanitarian crisis threatening the livelihoods of marginalized groups of Zimbabweans, particularly women, and the government has a responsibility to quickly address the economic impasse affecting the country

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