105 vendors arrested in Rusape for vending
Informal economy workers and traders are still being criminalized in Zimbabwe and this led to high incidents of brutal evictions of vendors from their workplaces, arrests, and confiscation of goods by Zimbabwe Republic Police and Municipal Police.
ZCIEA received a report from members in the Rusape Territory that the Zimbabwe Republic Police started arresting vendors in Rusape Town on the 22nd of October 2020. 76 vendors were arrested on the 22nd of October 2020. According to our members in Rusape Territory, ZRP officers stated that they were instructed by their superiors to arrest vendors because they are too many and selling at undesignated points. Local authorities used the veil provided by the lockdown to demolish vending stalls/informal structures throughout the country, Rusape included, and this resulted in vendors/informal traders incurring huge losses since their source of living was destroyed. Vendors who were arrested were charged a fine of RTGs 1000 cash, and ZRP officers were said to be rejecting swipe or EcoCash. 18 vendors were arrested on Friday the 23RD of October 2020, and Member of Parliament Honorable Tekeshe secured their release. On Sunday 24th of October 2020, 11 vendors were arrested bringing a total of 105 vendors arrested by ZRP in Rusape since Thursday the 22nd of October 2020. ZCIEA members were part of the vendors who were arrested in Rusape, the majority of whom were women. Some were released after paying RTGs 1000,00. Vendors questioned why they were being arrested and the response was that vendors should operate from designated points at Markets. Vendors argued that markets were demolished during lockdown to pave way for renovations and up to now nothing has been done in terms of providing a decent working environment (Market) for vendors. ZRP Rusape is said to be acting on information that Rusape Town Council received money to construct markets for vendors, therefore any vendor caught selling at an undesignated point should be arrested. The reality of the ground according to vendors in Rusape is that the council is yet to construct the market for vendors instead vendors are being asked by the Local Authority to contribute USD 50,00 per head towards the construction of the market which is beyond the reach of many vendors who live from hand to mouth.
The Informal Economy is a key player in resuscitating the economy of Zimbabwe, so all authorities must be educated to value the Informal Economy work and stop criminalizing them. As the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Dr. Sithembiso Nyoni said in her speech in Bulawayo at the unveiling of the new vending warehouse, “This sector has been key in Zimbabwean economy”
As Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations, we urge Zimbabwe Republic Police and Local authorities to engage informal economy players/ vendors before making a decision that affects their livelihoods. Street vendors and informal economy workers are willing to work in cooperation and solidarity in maintaining clean cities and the environment. Cities and towns should prioritize citizens’ dignity and right to livelihoods over profits. Right to the City is not about destroying livelihoods for public health but rather working together for the health and safety for all. Street vendors and informal economy workers can be agents of good public health. Authorities must work with them, not against them. We are, therefore, sending our National leadership team to go and have engagement with the authorities to address the situation on the ground. Informal traders are busy working to try and raise school fees for their children to go back to school. We urge our government to give reprieve for these vulnerable citizens so that they become meaningful components of their families and communities. ZCIEA STATEMENT OF CONCERN ON CONTINUED CRIMINALISATION OF INFORMAL TRADERS