Harare vendors have said they will only vacate the Central Building District (CBD) streets they sell their wares from if the government creates better employment opportunities for them.
The government last week gave the Harare City Council a seven-day ultimatum to remove the vendors out of the city due to rising cholera cases.
The Health Ministry said vending was fueling cholera cases in the capital.
A state of emergency was recently declared in Harare over the cholera outbreak that has killed dozens of people, with more than 7 000 suspected cases
Meanwhile, the Harare City Council held an emergency meeting Thursday to find ways to deal with the government directive on illegal vending in the CBD.
“We are having an emergency meeting to see how we can resolve the matter and comply with the government directive.
“The Council had already made some plans on the vendor’s plight,” Harare City spokesperson Stanley Gama told NewZimbabwe.com.
Vendors dismissed the government directive saying if working opportunities were available in the country, they would vacate the streets.
“We need jobs. There are no jobs in the country. Ngavatipe mabasa kuState House ikoko. Where can we go from here? Most of us are widows and single mothers fending for our kids through vending.
“We went to school.If the economy was flourishing, we would be employed somewhere. We are not happy being on these pavements. Let us join the government officials in their offices. I am sorry we cannot leave the CBD,” one vendor only identified as Varaidzo said.
Another vendor added, “We have educational certificates under our pillows but we have no jobs. They must show us the doors of companies which are employing people right now. We will go there. How do we take care of our kids?
“Council and government must work together to provide services to citizens. We have garbage all over the streets and raw sewage everywhere. Now we are being accused of fueling cholera in the city. Tell those authorities to put their houses in order because our wares are clean.”
Councillor Womberaiishe Nhende responsible for SMSEs at Town House told NewZimbabwe.com that the council was making inroads to deal with vendors’ plight.
“Harare City had plans already in place to deal with city challenges. The City has designated places for vendors but they are coming back to the streets alleging proximity to their customers has been compromised.
“This has created this ugly situation. Due to the outbreak that has been declared a national disaster, we have been begging the government to help the city improve on the vendor’s issues. Their livelihood is at stake.
“Harare is overpopulated right now. That is why we are saying job creation and service provision are a priority as we work towards a clean environment. We want to upgrade our street vendors to SMEs.
However, if the government feels it is obligated to remove them without a solution from these illegal vending sites, then it must intervene,” Nhende said.