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Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) August 2020 COVID-19 Report


The first week of August was characterized by limited trading and movement for Informal traders and vendors, owing to stringent enforcement of lock down measures at various checkpoints as well as heightened political tensions owing to the 31 July demonstrations.  Informal Traders and Vendors reported incidences of intimidation and beatings by security forces. The country experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths as well during the month, on a positive note, the rate of recovery is reportedly at 76 percent.  Please find tabulated incidences as reported by VISET traders at their market places and environs throughout the country.

01/08/2020Beitbridge TownPolice along with their canine unit carried out an operation targeting informal traders. Edmond Zeyazeya sustained serious leg injuries from a dog bite.Edmond Zeyazeya was admitted at Beitbridge General Hospital.
01/08/2020Hopley, Harare SouthSoldiers along with police laid siege on this area and constantly harassed vendors operating in the area adjacent to Irvine’s farm, where many traders had their chickens confiscated. There was also an incident where teargas was fired into the residential area.Isolated incidents of harassment still being reported. Political clashes have also been reported pitting Zanu PF youths against those from MDC Alliance.
01/08/2020Mbare, HarareAll market places besides the farmers’ wholesale market were closed by soldiers and police in Mbare for a second day as part of containment measures owing to the 31 July demonstrations.Markets have now reopened although lack of adherence to social distancing and sanitizing is a cause for serious concern. The Local Authority has no capacity support traders on operational Markets.
07/08/2020Rujeko Township, MasvingoVendors are constantly being harassed by police on charges of operating illegally and have had wares confiscated and fined if they do not pay bribes.VISET Masvingo leadership is actively engaged in discussions with Masvingo City officials for the reopening of traders’ markets as well as review of trading fees to be paid.
08/08/2020Gweru TownVendors have now been permitted to operate at the new Zupco terminus near Gain wholesalers. This location is however far from the city centre and most traders are facing transport challenges to commute to and from Mkoba where most of them reside. Traders are at times charged double the normal fare as they try to get back home before 6 p.m when the curfew begins.Representations have been made that traders be consulted on siting of new markets.  Shifting curfew from 6 pm to 8 pm is expected to help.
08/08/2020Mbizo 2, KwekweVendors have lodged complaints with the Kwekwe Town Council that the farmers’ market relocated to at Mbizo 2 is overcrowded, has no ablution facilities, and is a health hazard (primarily water-borne diseases and spread of COVID-19).Kwekwe Mayor and the Director of Health Services have promised to provide   ablution facilities at the farmers market, and reactivate the original plan to open other markets at Mbizo 4, 7, and 16.
11/08/2020HarareThere are no approved operating spaces for vendors in the city centre, with vendors facing arrest and extortion. The Coca Cola market along Seke Road is yet to be completed, five months after construction began. Although Council had promised to build new structures with ablution facilities to give vendors new modern markets to operate from, Council does not seem to have the requisite resources.VISET continuing its engagement with Harare City Council to site, develop, and administer satellite markets – the first sign of success in this partnership has been the reopening of Lusaka market.
13/08/2020MasvingoThe reopening of vendors markets by the Masvingo City Council has begun with Garikai fruit and veg.  Vendors are angry after Council allocated leased to only 80 traders (who paid US$20) in a market space that formerly housed 400 of them. Although council has promised allocate leases to more traders one new sheds have been constructed, vendors feel short-changed as the waiting period to resume trading from approved spaces continues to adversely affect their livelihoods.VISET Masvingo leadership has requested for a meeting with council, and they are waiting for a response.
14/08/2020Redcliff, Midlands ProvinceThere have been reports of rampant abuse of the covid-19 cushioning fund meant for the informal sector by high ranking politicians and civil servants in the Midlands province. In a statement by the Anti-Corruption Trust Southern Africa (ACT-SA) director Obert Chinhamo, the organization called for an audit to demonstrate transparency.VISET is conducting research into how the fund is being administered.
14/08/2020Chipadze Township, BinduraTraders and small business owners operating in the central business district and high density suburbs of Chipadze and Chiwaridzo are being forced to pay USD5 to police officers in bribes if found without proper local council operating and tax licenses. Shop owners are also being penalized for not having infrared thermometers that cost USD35.  A vendor at Progress shopping centre in Chiwaridzo said informal traders are being forced to either pay police daily bribes of ZWL 30 to operate or get their goods confiscated.Traders and shop owners are seeking an audience with Mashonaland Central Resident Minister Monica Mavhunga to resolve these problems.
24/08/2020West Nicholson, Matabeleland SouthTraders of mopani worms have complained of the influx into their area of buyers from as far afield as Bulawayo and Harare who are driving up prices, thereby threatening the survival of local traders.Traders have sought audience with the Matabeleland South Resident Minister to get a solution within the devolution framework.
26/08/2020HarareVendors, flea market traders, money changers and civil servants have been left stranded following the closure of a pyramid scheme closed on account of COVID-19 regulations. Operators of the scheme have promised that they will communicate to those whose amounts were maturing as to when and how to collect. A flea market operator who was among the first to invest when the pyramid scheme started said she has lost over US$20,000 and does not know where to start from.VISET in partnership with other organisations is engaged in lobbying Government ministries for a properly constituted social protection scheme for the informal sector. A director of one of the pyramid schemes, Richard Samunda has since appeared in court and been granted bail, whilst two of his fellow directors are thought to have fled the country.
27/08/2020BeitbridgeInformal traders have complained about the continued border closure which has decimated incomes and is a threat to the survival of businesses. Closure is also putting communities at risk of contracting COVID-19 from those involved in illegal border crossings.VISET will be engaging with the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises to find a solution.
28/08/2020Sakubva, MutareVendors have complained of the alarming levels of bribes being asked by law enforcement officials.Vendors have sought audience with the ZRP Officer Commanding Manicaland Province.
28/08/2020Makoni Shopping Centre, ChitungwizaVendors have complained that despite being registered and operating from designated market places, there has been no infrastructure improvements at their areas of operation. There is no running water.Vendors have made representations to their shopping centre association to engage the Chitungwiza Town Council.
28/08/2020BulawayoMs Mpofu from Bulawayo City Council at a VISET Webinar confirmed Council plans to relocate to new markets all informal traders and vendors who used to operate in the Central Business District.At the Webinar on “Re-setting the Informal Sector Post COVID-19”, Council promised to share a detailed implementation plan.
28/08/2020HarareMr. Michael Chideme of Harare City Council disclosed at a VISET Webinar that plans are underway to decongest Mbare Musika through opening up of satellite markets in high density areas, the first being Lusaka, Hatcliffe and Kuwadzana. It was their intention to make these markets not only compliant to Covid-19 but to also make them user friendly by incorporating features such as diaper changing facilities for mothers in restrooms.Harare City Council has acknowledged their resource limitation and has appealed VISET to assist in possible ways in implementing their plans.

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