By Daniel Chigundu
HARARE Mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni says despite flooding the pavements in the central business district (CBD), vendors’ contribution to the city council coffers is too little to talk about.
In Harare alone, it is widely believed that there are more than 5 000 vendors selling various wares that range from second-hand clothes, shoes, books and vegetables among other things.
However, these vendors have been facing many challenges such as having their wares confiscated by municipal police and late last year they had to approach the courts to stop the confiscations.
Speaking at the launch of the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET)’s proposed national policy for urban street vendors, Mayor Manyenyeni said vendors’ do not have a voice because their contribution to the city is unnoticeable.
“Every month the city gets US$13 million, and to start putting value on your contribution it has to be around US$500 000 going upwards every month, but it’s not coming to that, so it’s below US$500 000.
“But because of the size of the contribution of the informal sector in this city, your contribution should have been by now something to talk about because of your huge numbers and the activities you do and the economy that you are participating in as the informal sector.
He added, “In a country with 80 percent unemployment rate and what we see you do, your contribution to the city should have been very noticeable, but it hasn’t reached those levels which means either we are under-charging, you are not paying or it’s not reaching council coffers that is why I was asking about fines whether people are being given receipts or not, because we want to find out if the money is indeed going to city council or it’s going into the pocket of municipal police officers who would have arrested you”.
With unemployment estimated at over 80%, the majority have opted for vending as a way of fending for their families. Companies have continued closing shop and thousands more have been retrenched.
The landmark Zuva Court case judgement in 2015 has resulted in unemployment levels hovering above 85 percent in the country forcing people to embark on survivalist’s ventures.
A few weeks ago Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told Parliament that it was not the duty of government create employment, adding that people have to create their jobs.
President Robert Mugabe recently echoed Chinamasa’s sentiments saying, “We want people to create jobs for themselves and not to wait to be given work. Create jobs and employ others, we do not want people who just cry for jobs. Let’s have less tears and more sweat”
Interestingly the ruling party Zanu Pf promised to create about 2.2 million jobs in its 2013 election manifesto. To date, nothing has materialised in that regard. Chinamasa says the government’s role is to create a conducive environment for its people to create their own jobs.
Statistics suggest that in a population of 13 million people only 500 000 people who are formally employed in Zimbabwe and the rest are active in the informal sector.
Meanwhile, Councillor Manyenyeni has said normally he doesn’t want to see vendors in the streets, but because they are operating in an abnormal situation, the council is devising ways of allowing vendors to sell their wares in an orderly manner.