18 September 2018

Zimbabwe: Viset Meets Minister Sithembiso Nyoni Over Cholera Outbreak and Evictions

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Yesterday, Monday the 17th of September, the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) leadership met with the newly appointed Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Developments Hon Sithembiso Nyoni at her offices located at Kaguvi Building. The meeting took place against the backdrop of the outbreak of Cholera and Typhoid in Harare and some parts of the country and the subsequent decision by the Government to evict vendors operating within the Central Business District of Harare and some major towns and cities from across the country.

The outbreak has to date claimed the lives of over 30 people across the country. In her opening remarks, Minister Nyoni emphasized her commitment to working with representatives of vendors and informal sector associations in the fight against the further spread of Cholera and Typhoid. She went on to encourage vendors and informal sector associations to encourage their members to comply with the government's directive for vendors to leave the streets arguing that vendors should operate from designated vending stalls. In her closing remarks the Minister reiterated her commitment to the formalization and regularization of the operations of the informal sector.

In his presentation, VISET Executive Director, Mr. Samuel Wadzai welcomed the Minister's open door policy and congratulated her on her reappointment as the Minister dealing with the informal sector. He also took the opportunity to convey VISET's condolence message to the families that have thus far lost their beloved ones due to Cholera and Typhoid and encouraged all the stakeholders to unite and focus on saving lives rather than engaging in unhelpful name-calling and blame game.

He stressed that the Government, Private Sector, Civic Society and the community at large should focus on preventing the further loss of lives. With regards to the ongoing evictions, Wadzai said VISET is opposed to any intervention that is not inclusive. He went on to state that VISET believes the government has a responsibility to decongest the cities and confine vending to designated sites, BUT stressed that this has to be done in a manner that does not infringe on street vendors right to livelihoods. In other countries such as India and South Africa, the Vending Challenge was overcome amicably without necessarily arresting or prosecuting vendors and Wadzai implore the government Zimbabwe to do the same. It was suggested that the Harare City Council and indeed other local authorities from across the country prioritize the creation of enough vending stalls and Wadzai suggested the "Zoning" of streets, a method that worked in other countries. He concluded by welcoming the new thrust by the Minister to give the process of formalization and regularization the impetus that it surely deserved.

In her closing remarks the Minister urged VISET and other vendors and informal sector associations present to develop what she called "position papers" or proposal on how to ameliorate the challenges bedeviling the informal sector. Also present in the meeting was the Ministry's Permanent Secretary Mrs. S Zembe and the Principal Director.

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

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