Street vendors in Rusape, Zimbabwe, feel that the city council doesn’t want to improve their working and trading space.
Rusape vendors say they are losing clients and that their business dealing in motor spare parts and other hardware goods is going down because of the unfavourable economic environment. The vendors have been operating in the area since 2007. That same year, Rusape Town Council promised to upgrade the area.
The council is aware of the atmosphere vendors are in but has no budget for upgrading infrastructure. “The council could not deny vendors places to do business. We know this is a way of putting food on the table so we allowed them to put temporary structures. Once the council has the funding for such projects we will upgrade the place. We would like our people to make a living out of vending,” said Amon Chawasarira, Rusape Town Council chairperson.
Elitsha visited the area on a rainy day and most vendors were closed because of the wet weather. Some of the stalls have leaking roofs, if they have a roof at all. With water running everywhere, it was impossible to conduct business.
Speaking to Elitsha, one of the vendors Onwell Rubaya said, “The council is taking time to upgrade and I think we should not wait for the council. It should either sell the land to us or provide the plans for the area [so that] we can take it upon ourselves.”
Rubaya, 37 once worked for the construction company, Murray and Roberts, for five years. He joined the informal sector in 2007 at the height of the economic meltdown under former president Robert Mugabe’s administration .
Another vendor, Amon Nyamushunze who had not opened his stall that day, was sitting around a fire chatting to his friends. He has been trading in motor spare parts since 2010. “There is no business today. The weather is wet and there is no roof on my stall. If I let my motor spare parts get wet they will be rusty and customers are not willing to buy parts in that condition. They’d think I am selling second hand parts,” he said.
“Look this is my only means of supporting my family. If I do not make any sales on a day it means no food on the table. On a good day I take nearly $200 but today no one comes around because of the environment. All the dusty paths are muddy,” he says.
Elitsha noted that were no toilets nearby. Vendors have to make use of the nearest public toilet.