Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Protest under way against street vending ban

By Helen Kadirire

Vendors have vowed to stage street protests against the vending ban imposed by government.

Vegetable vendors sell their wares
Vegetable vendors sell their wares

A taskforce of government ministries, Harare City Council and the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) last week banned the sale of uncooked and cooked food on the streets ostensibly to curb the spread of typhoid.

Zimbabwe is scrambling to contain the outbreak of typhoid following at least two deaths and more than 100 suspected cases of the bacterial infection in the capital, Harare.

A ministerial taskforce set up by the government to spearhead efforts to contain the outbreak has bizarrely banned all vending in the capital.

But vendors blame erratic water supplies and poor sanitation for the spread of the water-borne disease.

Typhoid is caused by taking contaminated food or water and results in a fever that can potentially lead to death if not treated.

In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (Viset) director Samuel Wadzai said they will not be cowed by government.

“Apart from the interdict which we will be filing today, we will definitely go into the streets in protest of what they are imposing on us. We are also going to petition the Parliament of Zimbabwe on the matter,” Wadzai said.

He said the ban is a direct violation of people’s rights to earn a decent living, and branded the ban unconstitutional.

National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) chairperson Sten Zvorwadza said the ban was vindictive, insensitive and irresponsible since government had failed to create jobs.

“We will not allow this ban to kill the livelihoods and the lives of hardworking patriotic citizens of Harare.

“If we are silent this will be effected countrywide, we need to stand up and demand redress to the welfare of vendors and the people of Zimbabwe at large,” he said.

HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme said the city is not backing down on its clampdown against vendors.

“We are going ahead with the government directive. All we are working on now is finalising the logistics on the deployment of enforcement to remove the vendors,” Chideme said.

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (Zadhr) said it was worried and appalled by the City of Harare and government’s failure to stem the continued spread of typhoid and failure to prioritise safe, clean water and environment as key tenets of a strong primary health care system.

“While acknowledging the efforts by the authorities to date in responding to the outbreak, we remain unsatisfied with the level of intervention which, though important at curative stage, fails to acknowledge and introspect into the actual causes of the outbreak,” Zadhr said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Harare continues to reel under conditions suitable for the growth and spread of waterborne diseases such as typhoid.” Daily News