Zimbabwe Street Vendors Reel Under Infection Curbs

For many years, Zimbabwean single mother Spiwe Tembo would sell buns on the streets of central Harare, making enough to feed her three children. But her fortunes have actually dived.

Given that authorities prohibited street hawkers a year ago as part of a raft of steps to limit the spread of Covid-19, she plays cat-and-mouse with the authorities who comb the streets to rid them of suppliers.

” Things are difficult,” the 34-year-old said, waving a packet of big buns to possible consumers on a busy street in a part of Harare that residents call “Third World” because it is always teeming.

Spiwe Tembo, a casual trader who makes her living selling buns, is handcuffed to another vendor after being arrested by cops in Harare AFP/ Jekesai NJIKIZANA

” We get detained by municipal and national police,” she said.

” Almost everyday I pay allurements to law enforcement officers to avoid getting apprehended.”

On the days she does not have any money, the inevitable happens and she is jailed and her items took.

That is when she calls friends or family members “to come to the police station and pay the fine for me”.

Authorities banned street hawkers a year ago as part of a raft of steps to limit the spread of Covid-19 AFP/ Jekesai NJIKIZANA

Yet she never quits.

” The next day I go back to square one after borrowing money from relations or buddies,” she stated.

It does not improve and on many days she returns home empty-handed.

She has been forced to send her kids to deal with relatives due to the fact that she can not manage their upkeep.

Kenneth Tauro sorts through a sack full of second-hand clothing as he prepares to go out to market in Epworth town in Harare AFP/ Jekesai NJIKIZANA

Emily Chipwanya, whose other half is a federal government clerk, has actually for years been selling cold beverages in central Harare to supplement her spouse’s meagre income.

” Prior to Covid-19 we offered a lot due to the fact that many people entered into town,” she said, bring a little bucket of ice-cold drinks.

However sales have actually plummeted.

As if that is insufficient “now we get jailed. We do not understand what to do to earn money,” she stated.

Kenneth Tauro he states he makes less than 10 percent of his pre-pandemic income AFP/ Jekesai NJIKIZANA

” It’s a gamble”

She nostalgically reflects on the past when “we used to have correct meals” in the early morning, afternoon and evening. “Now it’s one meal a day”.

Cops spokesperson Paul Nyathi did not react to calls seeking comment on bribery claims.

Kenneth Tauro, 26, had a successful stall selling previously owned clothes in Harare’s biggest township at a market called Mupedzanhamo or “the place where poverty ends” in the regional Shona language. It has been closed for a year.

He now attempts his luck at a casual market in the high-density suburban area of Epworth. However business is bad and he states he earns less than 10 percent of his pre-pandemic income.

” I can’t keep in mind when I last had three meals,” said Tauro.

Covid has actually eliminated a minimum of 1,500 people and contaminated 37,875 out of Zimbabwe’s 14 million population and sunk millions deeper into hardship in a country that was currently in the throes of a recession.

The UN World Food Programme in a current report, kept in mind “a sharp decline in the standard of life” among the city poor, with cravings increasing and leaving 2.4 million individuals struggling to satisfy fundamental requirements.

” Lockdowns imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19 have dealt an extreme blow to poor urban communities, many of whom were day-to-day wage earners living hand to mouth,” WFP said.

The international food company pays $12 a month to 326,000 urban Zimbabweans and intends to increase this number to 550,000.

” We’ve seen a boost in poverty line, especially in urban areas, on account of Covid-19 caused socio-economic shocks,” stated economist Prosper Chitambara from the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe think-tank.

He said the cash-strapped federal government needs to present social security to cushion those operating in the casual sector.

But that would be the majority of Zimbabweans as less than 10 percent of employable individuals have correct tasks.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been struggling for over a decade with devaluation and an economic decline.

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