By Locadia Mavhudzi
RESIDENTS in the small mining town of Zvishavane in Midlands province have called on the town council to construct new vending infrastructure for the informal sector.
The residents said the construction of new vending sites should help address the plight of the informal traders in the town, following the demolition of the illegal structures in March last year when the country recorded its first coronavirus infections
They also said the new sites would also help deal with the problem of heaps of garbage piling up on the streets where informal traders were now operating from.
Local authorities countrywide last year demolished illegal vending structures following a government directive to construct proper vending infrastructure.
Zvishavane Urban Vendors Association chairperson, Janet Shava, said council should prioritise the construction of vending infrastructure and the allocation of vending stalls.
She said the construction of the vending stalls would not only bring order and reduce pollution levels on the streets but would also generate revenues from levies and tariffs.
“The majority of residents in this town survive on vending and these are mainly women and young people. Lack of operating spaces, if not addressed soon, could lead to outbreaks of diseases, such as cholera and typhoid.”
“Many were operating from the Mandava market, but the refurbishment of the marketplace by the council is very slow. Council should quickly complete the stalls, open the public toilets for use and ensure sufficient supply of running water.”
One female vendor said: “Failure by council to allocate us operating spaces is tantamount to crippling sources of our livelihoods. This has forced us to work on the streets in the central business district, which has led to more confrontations with the police or council police”.
Zimbabwe Council of Informal Economy Workers chairperson Shepherd Museve said local authorities should also educate vendors about by-laws that affect their operations.
“There are no programmes designed by municipalities aimed at informing, educating and training these informal economy workers on the provisions of laws and by-laws that have direct or indirect bearing to their day-to-day activities,” he said.
“Instead, the informal economy workers only realise the infringement or violation of such laws or by-laws when authorities arrest them or confiscate their goods. This has also seen municipal police taking advantage of women by asking them to pay hefty fines for violations that sometimes do not exist.”
Zvishavane town secretary, Tinoda Mukutu, said the council was working on providing world class vending malls as part of efforts to have the mining town upgraded to a municipality this year.
“Our vision is to become a municipality and for us to achieve this vision, council has embarked on a number of projects using our own resources as well as Public-Private Partnerships,” he said.
“Despite the economic challenges currently facing the country, our council is thriving to provide quality service to its residents in terms of water, sewer, public lighting, refuse collection, roads infrastructure and other basic services.”
There has been a steady growth in population in Zvishavane, which has been brought about by mining activities, as well as the opening of a campus that caters for about 3,000 students at the new Midlands State University (MSU) campus.