Concern as vendors invade Harare CBD

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Sindiso Mhlophe

ZIMBABWE Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) has raised concern over the increase in informal traders in Harare’s Central Business District (CBD) who are not adhering to coronavirus (Covid-19) regulations, saying this could increase the rate of the spread of the deadly virus.

This comes as undesignated vendors have been trickling back into the CBD following President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s recent relaxation of lockdown measures that allowed registered informal businesses to operate.

“The Forum is deeply concerned about the re-emergence of vendors in the CBD amid the growing number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country. This is a major risk factor in the spread of the disease, which comes at a time when cases of infections are on the rise. The Forum urges the government to urgently address the issue and ensure protection of citizens against infection,” the NGO said.

This comes as the country’s confirmed Covid-19 cases have increased to 567, with 142 recoveries and six deaths.
Before the Covid-19 induced national lockdown, congestion and uncontrolled vending had become the norm in the city centre, with vendors selling their wares on the doorsteps of shops and offices.

Small and Medium Enterprises Development minister Sithembiso Nyoni recently called on informal traders to register their businesses with relevant authorities, indicating that the government had adopted a phased approach to re-opening the informal sector.

“The plan we have adopted will see those that are in the open being allocated different days to operate to minimise congestion. The point to hammer home is that everybody, including the informal sector; they don’t want to go back to the filth of yesteryears. They want to work with the local government so that they work in dignified workspaces.

“Wherever they are going back, there should be water and toilets and if it’s not possible to have toilets, mobile toilets should be made available,” Nyoni said.

Meanwhile, national police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said the security forces would continue enforcing the national lockdown and ensuring that there is adherence to the set regulations meant to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“The ministry of Small to Medium Enterprises has set guidelines for those in the informal sector to start operating. These regulations require unregistered informal traders to register their businesses and comply with the regulations of the national lockdown.

“It will be in the interest of the informal vendors trickling back into town and that of the public to adhere to the regulations of the national lockdown and those set by their ministry.

“The police will not hesitate to enforce the lockdown regulations and ensure that there is order and that members of the public are protected from dangerous activities that increase the risk of the spread of the coronavirus,” Nyathi said.

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