Covid-19 lockdown: Gwanda street vendors feel the pinch

By Vumani Mthiyane

Informal traders in Gwanda have voiced their concerns at the snail pace at which Gwanda Municipality is moving to put up propers structures from them to operate from.

The traders were displaced in March when President Emmerson Mnangagwa imposed a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.

In June the government eased the lockdown regulations and ordered informal traders, excluding cross-border traders and a few others, to register and formalise their operations.  

However, in Gwanda, the street vendors are still waiting for the local authority to complete the construction of a vending mart.

Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Sithembiso Nyoni last Saturday held a groundbreaking ceremony ahead of the construction of the market place.

The market will accommodate about 56 informal traders who specialise in fruit and vegetable vending.

A flea market vendor, Siphiwe Moyo told CITE that the delay is affecting their livelihood.  

“After the displacement from our vending points in the Central Business District (CBD) in April, we went back to our houses with no other sources of income. Now everyone is vending from their houses, thereby making it difficult for council registered vendors to realise profits,” she said. 

“We are struggling to put food on the table and to pay rentals because our main source of revenue was cut off by council. As registered vendors, we are appealing to the council to swiftly build vendor marts so that we resume operations.”

Grecious Ndlovu a senior resident and a vendor also echoed similar sentiments saying. 

“Life for a vendor has become unbearable because we can no longer afford to fend for our children. Council destroyed our vending structures yet in other towns our counterparts are back in business while here in Gwanda we are not allowed anywhere near those vending spots,” she lamented.

In response, Gwanda Mayor, Councillor Justone Mazhale said they are guided by government policy.  

“All measures were put in place to avoid the spread of Coronavirus. Vending points usually attract huge numbers of people thereby violating Covid-19 regulations on social distancing. 

However, the vending points shall be opened step by step as evidence by what we did at the long-distance bus rank when the government relaxed some other restrictions,” explained the Mayor. 

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