Layman: On govt vs Vendors

Home, shop, bedroom: Zimbabwe's desperate vendors & cash seekers now live in the streets
Vendors sleep on the sidewalks in Harare, Zimbabwe (Pic: Maynard Manyowa)

Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Honorable July Moyo has declared war on illegal vendors. Speaking during a press conference that was also attended by acting Harare Town Clerk Eng Hosiah Chisango, the minister did not mince his words. 

 
“In view of this untenable situation, let us all declare war on illegal vendors and unregistered public transporters. To the vendors who are operating at undesignated sites, including in front of shops and to unregistered public transporters, you are directed to cease forthwith your activities within the next 48 hours, failure of which you have no one, but yourselves to blame. I have contacted, before this press conference, the Vice President General Chiwenga to inform him about this statement I am issuing and to seek his assistance so that security agencies can work with the municipalities, town councils, so that we can put to rest this menace that is facing us.”  the minister declared.
 
Meanwhile, National Vendors Association Of Zimbabwe Marshall Steyn Zvorwadza was taking no prisoner’s. He said the move was not democratic and in return he gave the Government an 48hour ultimatum to create jobs. Both submissions got to the layman’s desk and the man of little knowledge is about to break it down through his little mirror that reflects an image of the populace. 
 
As a layman, my basic understanding is that the situation of illegal vendors has been worsened by the high unemployment rate we are facing as a nation. However, the layman can not pay a blind eye to the recent break outs of typhoid and cholera largely emanating  from such practices. While the lack of functional industries has made people take to the streets to sale whatever they can to survive, this has also come at a cost to the survival of the few industries we still have left.
 
Currently, just outside the countries biggest shoe-manufacturing company BATA you find vendors selling home made shoes at a cheaper price. Unlike Bata they do not have as much overheads and do not pay tax so their prices entice customers to buy from them. It’s seems legit till the day BATA decides to shutdown. We do not need to re-visit 2008 to remind citizens what happens when prices of commodities are decided daily in the streets by un-commissioned  profiteering batches. The current state in regards to cash shortage should be enough to warn citizens of the risk of having ungovernable entities as pricing arms . 
 
However, the tone the Hon Minister used to address the issue may as well be credited for the reaction. A 48 Hour ultimatum and a declaration of war is in sharp contrast to the tone the new dispensation has set in other forums. While indeed the issue of vendors is a cause for concern both in macro economics and also in the health and tourism  sectors, the militant approach spells doom as we will head for a government versus it’s citizens showdown.
 
The layman’s lack of text book philosophies to fix this problem will not hinder him from sharing his opinion. So the layman hereby recommends two things, Engagement and Patience. There is need for consensus, dictating paths will not yield results neither will a quick-fix be successful. It took a decade to get us here and a 2day mission will not seat well with a nation whose resistance to change stems from their former President. 
 
Let the layman conclude by saying, the government should engage the vendors. They should have a round table and map out a way forward otherwise they will have to table the upcoming loses. A 60day clean up campaign will be more reasonable to the vendors and also gives the government ample time to put in place optional structures that will house the vendors and also have proper  documentation for their practice.
 
From the layman’s desk, we are out. LET’S CHAT AGAIN NEXT WEEK.