By Daniel Chigundu
THE decision by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to take over government on Tuesday appears to have also worked in favour of vendors who sell their wares in Harare’s Central Business District (CBD).
Of late vendors were having endless running battles with both municipal police and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) following a directive from President Robert Mugabe that they must be removed from the streets.
However since Tuesday when the ZDF entered the capital with its armoured personnel carriers, the ZRP and municipal police seem to have disappeared leaving vendors to sell their wares undisturbed.
In an interview one male vendor who sells bananas and apples at the corner of Park Street and Nelson Mandela, applauded the current situation saying it has helped deal with the issue of “troubling” police officers.
“I don’t know what is happening with the soldiers, some are saying it’s a coup, but whatever it is or whatever it is not, it has helped us a lot in dealing with police officers and council.
“Before the soldiers came in we were having running battles almost every hour with these police officers and we lost a lot of revenue from damaged goods, but since Tuesday, the police are nowhere to be found.
“This is an environment we want for us to be able to look after our families since there are no jobs in the country. We don’t know when this will end, but my hope is that it stays for longer,” he said on condition of anonymity.
According to former Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, there are only 500 000 people formally employed in Zimbabwe while the rest are in the informal sector doing various activities including vending.
Due to their huge numbers, vendors have been facing challenges with regards to vending spaces, a development which resulted in most of them taking over street pavements to display their various wares.
Efforts by the city council to build vending spaces outside the CBD backfired as vendors rejected them arguing that they were far from their potential customers.
The informal sector has become the employer of choice in Zimbabwe as the majority of companies have closed owing to various operational challenges.
As we speak Onsdale which manufacture Farai Sanitary Pads is on the verge of closing owing to unavailability of foreign currency to import raw materials from China and South Africa.
Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company and Sable Chemicals are in the same predicament.