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Banning of street vending in Harare cruel


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Banning of street vending in Harare cruel

by Stephen Jakes

Pro-democracy activist Linda Masarira has described the banning of street vending in Harare as cruel and inhumane.

The government announced that it was banning the food vending in Harare following the outbreak of typhoid.

"The announcement by today that the government has decided to make street vending illegal is not good news at all. I agree that prevalence of diseases is a cause for concern for all of us in Harare. Minister Parirenyatwa and his counterparts are refusing to accept the real challenges on the ground contributing to the problem at hand. But, targeting vendors in addressing the problem is not only wrong but proves to all and sundry how the state and local authority treat the impoverished majority of the residents," Masarira said.

"Typhoid and cholera are diseases spread by poor hygiene. It is open secrets that refuse collection and sewerage reticulation are perennial challenges dogging the Harare municipality. Sadly, these do not rank amongst their top priority list. It is a common sight in the residential areas, indeed at Mbare musika that refuse, and sewerage competes for space with the inhabitants. Minister of Local Government Saviour Kasukuwere is very much aware of this situation. Even the Mayor Manyenyeni is not alien to the sorry situation that confronts Harare residents on a daily basis. Now to react because of the outbreak and sad deaths as a result of the recent cases of typhoid in Mbare proves that they do not care about us. Where were they all along? Can they seriously believe we can buy the cameo solution they are putting on the table? "

She said there are issues that are supposed to be addressed not this madness and these vendors are not on the streets by choice but because of the failed rule by the government.

"They are mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who are at the mercy of insensitive government policies. I am talking of properly qualified people who cannot find employment because the government is clueless and has failed to provide the promised 2.2 million jobs. They have managed to kill all economic activities and these people have no option but work from the streets. This is not the need to get supplementary earnings but their sole source of livelihood. Families are dependent on these forced vending businesses. What Kasukuwere and Manyenyeni fail to realise is that they are condemning these people to the dustbin of poverty. They surely can't hide behind the pressure from the ministry of health. They know health is a right and not negotiable. Residents deserve quality service delivery and not for the authorities to wait for outbreaks. What kind of a leadership that is not proactive? Reactionary always!!" she said.

"We all know that the advent of rainy season always brings with it water borne diseases and it is the duty of government to have contingency measures in place. They should have a plan of action in place that prioritise refuse collection, provision of quality drinking water and improved sewerage reticulation system. This should be an on-going exercise rather than wait for situations as obtaining on the ground now. Instead of preoccupying himself with giving stands and firing councillors, the minister should at least take the welfare of citizens seriously. He must know that he is in office to serve us not to impoverish the populace.

"Masarira said decisions like these, though in some instances mean good for us residents, must not be ruthless and cruel.

"We as residents should be consulted, solutions proffered as a collective rather than having the chief culprits pretend to have our welfare at heart. This vending situation is not a fly by night thing. These people will surely come back and then what will happen? It will not be by choice but that's the only available honest means to earn a living. Schools are opening next week and school fees come from these activities," she said.

"The government should at least consider regulating open wells at households, boreholes and dubious water purifying companies. It is always inevitable that sewerage seeps into boreholes and open wells. Due to perennial water pipe bursts and sewerage leakages, chances are high that raw sewerage is deposited into the water system. These are issues they should endeavour to have corrected that targeting vendors who have no direct link to the outbreak of typhoid and cholera. Council should consider increasing access to ablution facilities in the CBD and public transport pick-up points like Mbare musika, Copacabana, market square, charge office, Machipisa and fourth street terminus."

Masarira said the inter-ministerial task team shall look beyond the current problem and thrive to have a long lasting solution to these challenges.

"This is a good initiative but they have to consider the snowballing effect of outright banning of street vending without providing alternatives to these people. It is indeed hard to adjust to new regulations overnight. Council should take a leaf from their mushikashika challenge in effecting  this new regulation. Due to desperation, all vendors will use unorthodox means to sell their wares. This will not prevent the perceived spreading of typhoid but stop them from practising the little hygiene they seem to be doing at the moment. Majority of us actually purchase veggies from them on our way home because they are affordable and accessible. There is serious need for reviewing the strategy and come up with a win-win stop gap measure. Otherwise, the affected people will be worse off and the whole meaning of an otherwise welcome measure thrown into the dustbin," she said.

Source – Byo24News

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