How do you feel about street vendors in Harare?

Vendors have for the longest, been part and parcel of the economic machine not only in Harare and other parts of Zimbabwe for that matter. They have been there on the roadside selling fruit and vegetable, they have been there darting in and out of traffic at robots selling airtime and other bits and pieces, they have been in car parks selling clothing out of the boots of their cars; and now they are really there, selling whatever it is that they think the public may want to get their hands on as they walk along the streets of the central business district.

In a number of instances, they can be seen as providing a service of convenience because you can get your airtime, a newspaper, chibage, tomatoes, clothing and so on without leaving the comfort of your car or if you are a pedestrian, you may not have to venture too far out of your way to get what you need.

However, the number of vendors on the streets has increased exponentially and this could be for a number of reasons with one of them possibly being the lack of gainful employment in the formal sector and people turing to the informal to make ends me.

Whatever the cause may be, the surge in their numbers has caused contention and the government has given them an ultimatum to move off the streets and set up shop in specially designated areas where they can ply their trade.

Truth be told, the surge in their numbers has in some cases caused a bit of nuisance because navigating some of the sidewalks in Harare becomes a bit of a challenge when they decide to set up shop there.

Without a doubt a significant amount of money is exchanged in this informal economy and the government looking to move them to designated areas, this creates an opportunity for them to collect tax revenue. That said, it is a little easier to see why the government may be so keen to see vendors move into ‘controlled’ areas – go here for details.

On the same token, clamping down on vendors may for them mean losing out on a revenue stream. If this was the only way in which they made ends meet then what do they do to feed themselves and their families?

Here is a bit of the reaction that people have had about the issue of vendors in days gone by:

Share your thoughts (by leaving a comment below) on how you feel about vendors on our streets.

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