BY LORRAINE MUROMO
GOVERNMENT has been urged to classify vendors as essential services after informal traders expressed concern that another strict COVID-19 lockdown would push them into poverty.
This comes after Bulawayo vendors pleaded with the government against imposing another lockdown as they are yet to recover from the economic shocks they experienced in 2020.
The country is witnessing a surge in COVID-19 infections, which has resulted in government tightening prevention measures, and setting up vaccination centres at bus termini.
Zimbabwe recorded 4 031 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths yesterday, the highest daily total since March 2020 when the country detected its first case.
Chairperson of Entumbane flea market, Christopher Solomon Charumbira said another lockdown would cripple their businesses and render several families financially incapacitated.
“We are living from hand to mouth and if there is another total lockdown, we are doomed as we do not have anywhere to start,” Charumbira said.
“We cannot take perishables home they will rot. Foodstuffs are different from clothing which can be kept for a longer period. Vendors need to pay school fees, fares and cater for other daily expenses for sustenance. It would be devastating if the government lock us down, we are totally out.
“While we totally acknowledge that lockdown is enviable, they should rather minimise our working hours so that we sell our wares in those few moments.”
DanChurchAid markets specialist for rural and urban resilience, Shadreck Zhou urged the government to classify vendors as essential service providers.
“If there is another lockdown, they are doomed. We are still trying to convince authorities that vendors are essential services, and we are also educating them on following COVID-19 regulations,” Zhou said.
Meanwhile, vendors, who have received help from the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) under the Sizimele project have, applauded the organisation for capacitating communities to fight poverty.
One of the beneficiaries, Sithandazile Ncube said: “The situation was dire before Sizimele. It has helped us since the advent of COVID-19 with essentials such as masks, sanitisation buckets and thermometers and trained us on disaster management.”
ZRBF works with the Lands ministry, among other stakeholders which include the European Union, Swedish embassy, United Nations Development Programme and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, formerly DFID in capacitating communities with resilience and disaster management skills.