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» » » Unity is our strength— VISET marks International Vendors Day

VISET director Samuel Wadzai
TellZim Reporter

The Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) today (November 14,2019) commemorates the International Vendors Day celebrating the significant contribution street vendors make towards their local economies.
The day was first celebrated on the November 12, 2012 under the banner of Street Net International.
In a statement, VISET said that this year’s commemorations are taking place against the backdrop of
the declaration of war on vendors’ livelihoods by the authorities.
“This year, the day is being commemorated under the theme: 'Unity Is Our Strength'. Street trading
is thriving and growing in harsh economic times, so we can no longer overlook that street vendors are
an integral part of urban economies around the world, offering easy access to a wide range of goods
and services in public spaces.
“It should be acknowledged that street trading is an ancient and important occupation found in
virtually every country and major city around the world.
“Street vending has been seen as a nuisance by many local municipalities and their right to earn decent livelihoods is always under threat by unfavorable by-laws and municipal regulations. Urban policies and local economic development strategies rarely prioritize livelihood security (social protection) for informal workers. 
"Urban renewal projects and infrastructure upgrades routinely displace street vendors from natural markets, leaving the most vulnerable without a suitable workplace,” reads the statement.
VISET called on the government to accept that vendors are not the enemy but should work on policies that accommodate the trade.
“Good practice documentation shows vendors can help with urban management challenges like crime and cleaning. Also, basic infrastructure, shelter, toilets, electricity and water can improve work environments and make public spaces safer, more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. 
“Some cities are working with street vendors’ organizations to formulate innovative policies, programmes and practices that enable vendors to have a voice in making their cities more inclusive.
“The year 2019 has not been an easy year for street vendors. It was a year when the government declared war on the vending enterprise through directives by Municipalities that all vendors be removed from the Central Business Districts of major towns and cities.
"We saw Municipal and Zimbabwe Republic Police using force and arresting thousands of vendors as a response to the directive. More than 4 500 of our members reported various forms of human rights abuses. Arrests, imprisonment, and prosecution of hundreds of street vendors also characterized the year. 
"Our goods were confiscated and some of us were assaulted. Municipal police officers solicited bribes from us, which ranged from cash to kind.  Some of our female colleagues reported sexual harassment and abuse wherein they had to provide sexual favours in return for their confiscated goods or for places in designated vending sites,” said VISET in a statement.
VISET believes that while the government has a responsibility to decongest the cities and confine vending to designated sites, this has to be done in a manner that does not infringe on street vendors right to livelihoods.

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