Informal traders in Victoria Falls have complained about the influx of Zambian hawkers who they said are allowed to trade freely on the streets taking away business from the locals.
Zambian informal traders commonly known as omzanga, cross the border each day to sell various kinds of goods including farm and horticulture products, second-hand clothes, facials and other items.
These are the same items local vendors deal in.
Local vendors said while they are compelled to operate from designated areas, omzanga move door-to-door and as a result, customers no longer visit markets.
“We wish something can be done because we have lost so much business. We sell from designated areas but they are allowed to move around which means no customers find it worthwhile to come to the market anymore,” said Ian Sibanda, chair of Chinotimba Flea Market Association.
Vendors want the Victoria Falls City Council to compel the Zambian vendors to sell at designated places
“Us as Victoria Falls residents we respect our city hence we don’t sell in front of shops. Our worry is that Zambians are allowed to go around selling when we can’t.
“Council should make them operate from one place like us. In fact, they should sell in bulk and allow us to sell to the local market,” said a vendor.
Some locals have also started displaying vegetables and other products outside designated points taking advantage of laxity in council regulations.
Council spokesperson Mandla Dingani said the local authority had identified land to build market stalls for Zambians to operate from one place.
He said the council is also working on by-laws to regulate economic activities in the city.
Victoria Falls is largely tourism-based and most vendors sell tourism-related products such as curios African attire and others.
Cross-border informal traders are allowed entry into the country and the Zambians use temporary gate passes which they renew on a daily basis at the border.
Zambia and Zimbabwe enjoy cordial relationships which allow bilateral activities and both also implemented the uni-visa concept to benefit tourism
A local trust, Youth Invest has been carrying out empowerment programmes to capacitate local informal traders to be able to sustain their businesses.