The chairman of National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe, Sten Zvorwadza has dished out the union’s take on the current war between the vendors and the authorities amidst a cholera outbreak.
The police and vendors have played the cats and mouse game for years and the war is still raging. Vendors have tried to engage in dialogue with the government, they have demonstrated but it seems their fate is never guaranteed. According to Zvorwadza, the vendor’s union is more than willing to engage in dialogue with the stakeholders. He also pointed out that the only way to solve the current battle between vendors and the authorities is to come up with a strategy that works for both. He alluded that vendors are also willing to participate in the decongestion of the streets for as long they are provided with an alternative.
Dialogue is key: Vendors
In an interview, Zvorwadza highlighted that the union sat down and came up with their own strategy that they think works for everyone. “ The majority of Zimbabweans are on the streets and what they are asking for is not a lot. Everyone needs to have a portion of what they do in the creation of the economy” said Sten. Dialogue has never been considered as a working strategy, however, vendors still believe that dialogue is key. Zvorwadza suggests that it is never going to be easy clearing the streets without assuring the vendors of their fate. He equates chasing vendors without an alternative of depriving a bed-ridden patient of oxygen that he or she is surviving on.
Adopt our grand plan and we will leave the streets
The grand plan by the vendors is to have a percentage of the contracts in the mainstream economy. His example was that the City of Harare uses about $3 million to procure water treatment chemicals on a monthly basis, the union has asked to be awarded a percentage of that budget rather than working with a few companies. He added that the informal economy desk should be given a chance as a way of job creation which will take some vendors off the streets. This is a step by step procedure but Zvorwadza believes it will decongest the streets of any city.
Lets fight all fight against cholera
Zvorwadza suggests that members of the formal and informal sectors should find common ground in combating cholera. He trusts that the government is working towards eradicating the disease. He also calls upon everyone to fight against the deadly disease because it affects everyone.
Zvorwadza stated that confrontation has been used before but it has never worked hence dialogue is a safer way of finding common ground. “it is not only the problem of cholera that we should be talking about but also lets look at the grand plan of how informal economy workers are going to be handled beyond the cure of cholera.” Said Zvorwadza.
Do you think it is fair blaming vendors for the spread of cholera?
Zvorwadza highlighted that people are good at blaming others and he added that they are allowed to do so. He strongly defended the vendors saying they did not cause cholera but various factors which include poor water reticulation, poor service delivery on refuse collection and unattended ablution facilities across the country.
One of the journalists was assaulted by the police on Friday covering the chase of vendors by the police, what is your comment on that?
Zvorwadza alluded that Zimbabwe is still operating under the stone age era. He added that people should desist from running Zimbabwe under the old dispensation. He also pointed out that the new dispensation should lead Zimbabwe in a productive way. Zvorwadza also highlighted that these policemen should be brought to book.
Just as much as you denied that vendors are causing cholera, what is your take on the picture of a man preparing his vegetables right in sewage water?
People must not blame the person who has his feet in the dirty water but the authorities who have failed to deal with the matter before it went out of hand. However, he discouraged his fellow members from selling foodstuff which poses harm to everyone for the time being.
Zvorwadza reflected on the interest of the union to work with new the dispensation and their approval to leave the streets as long as they have an alternative. He also spoke against the assault of journalists as the much-anticipated investors have an eye on Zimbabwe and keeping a record of every situation that might be a threat to their potential investments.