Full statement by the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) on the relaxation of lockdown regulations by President Emmerson Mnangagwa:
Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) cautiously and watchfully welcomed the revised lockdown regulations by the President of Zimbabwe Mr E.D. Mnangagwa on 15 February 2021, where he revised business hours of operation and hours of the curfew, along with what was termed reopening of the informal sector in keeping with World Health Organization (WHO) Covid-19 regulations.
The reason for our caution as it has turned out was prudent, as the requirements include temperature testing, which at an average cost of USD30 is beyond the reach of the majority of players in the informal sector, also bearing in mind that these are people yet to recover from the economic impact of the initial lockdown.
Some members of our sector have been denied permission to operate even upon satisfying WHO guidelines and demonstrating the ability to test employees periodically.
Reports are also surfacing of police harassment at checkpoints and within the central business district, making the movement of vendors to and from farmers markets difficult. This has equally begun to adversely affect farmers as their perishable goods go to waste.
It remains our contention that in the absence of any alleviating financial support from the government, the informal sector be opened up with adherence to social distancing and sanitizing so that they can feed their families as well as adhering to safe health practices.
Informal Traders and vendors should not have to choose between hunger and health but should be able to pursue their livelihoods without endangering greater society and VISET stands ready and willing to assist in the awareness and implementation of Covid-19 regulations throughout the sector as they have done in the past.