Simbarashe Fenton M
The unfair treatment that has been showered on Vendors in Kwekwe has made them reminisce the time Kwekwe Central legislator Masango ‘Blackman’ Matambanadzo was still alive it has been established.
Blackman, as he was popularly known amassed a lot of support and praises from vendors and the public during his days. He was considered the ‘people’s person’ because he listened and addressed citizens’ grievances, offering vending spaces and creating conducive environments for vendors in Kwekwe. However his death has left a gap in the hearts of many vendors.
“Honestly I wish Blackman was alive, he always had a plan no matter how big the issue was. Look at how we are being treated by this kanzuru (Council). We have been running up and down since morning because we do not have a place to sale our products. I have to sell my products to earn a living, because this is the way I survive,” said a vendor identified as Tsitsi who operates in the Kwekwe Central Business district (CBD).
“We used to pay week in week out at another place in town so that we sell our stuff but what I do not understand is how the council turned that space into a prepaid car park without another alternative for us. These are hard times we need to work for ourselves otherwise we will starve .Covid-19 is there and we hear of the Indian variant but we can’t stay at home. It is a covid-council police battle and we are prepared for it daily. During Blackman’s days things were better, he was our hero, may his soul rest in peace. Dai akatosota plan tichongwavha pasina hondo nekanzuru (he could have made a plan for us),”said a vendor who pleaded for anonymity.
Meanwhile, speaking during a full council meeting, Ward 6 councilor McLean Nyamucherera questioned the treatment vendors experience in the hands of the council. He called for immediate solutions to the problems they are facing while recognising that the council might be missing on revenue.
“Vendors need places so that they can work on, they need to stop running. There are reliable sources which say that around USD$400 is being collected by council police on weekends from vendors. The money is not even reaching the council but pocketed for their own personal use. People are saying that if Blackman was alive he would have solved this issue. After the council turned Prince Park into a car park. We still need a place for them…” he said.
A series of cat and mouse running sprees between Kwekwe City Council Police and vendors have been regularly experienced in Kwekwe during the lockdown period over the use of illegal spaces by vendors. This came largely after the council turned Prince Park (a designated space for vendors) into a prepaid car park and closed up other areas due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kwekwe Mayor Angeline Kasipo argued that the spaces were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. She said this came after the government’s stance on the issue of mabhero (bales).
“The government said that bales are not advised to be sold especially during this Covid-19 pandemic era. The Health department also advised that it is not allowed. So we also need our police to help out,” she said during the full council meeting.
The country’s economy was further hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns especially the informal sector which is the dominant one in the country. The informal sector in Kwekwe has experienced difficulties in income generating activity.