Felex Share Senior Reporter
Vendors and informal traders yesterday endorsed President Mnangagwa assuring him they will vote for him and Zanu-PF on Monday next week as they had suffered enough at the hands of MDC-T run councils.
The informal economy workers said MDC-T councils were taking away money from them daily and sometime in 2015 about 17 500 vendors were duped $5 each ostensibly meant for a vendor relocation exercise.
Nothing has materialised to date.
The vendors, under various unions, yesterday organised a meeting with President Mnangagwa’s administration which afforded them an opportunity to articulate their challenges.
They called for a commission of inquiry to investigate and punish council officials and councillors who looted and shared their money.
They also confiscated the vendors’ wares.
Munhumutapa Royal Charter president Mr Ephraim Chizola said MDC-T-run councils had failed them.
“The past five years have been difficult for us because we voted for those whom we thought would help us but we were wrong as councillors from opposition political parties supressed our issues,” he said.
“We have made an introspection and we now have someone (President Mnangagwa) who has managed to sit down with us to hear our concerns. He is someone who has managed to bring peace and one cannot imagine we are in election mode. We now want to work with Government to ensure our challenges are solved.”
Mr Chizola said vendors had lost varying amounts of money to MDC-T-run councils.
“After looting hundreds of thousands of dollars from us, which they continue to do even today, there are no stalls and ablution facilities at all the sites they promised us,” he said.
“We have been neglected. All we hear and read is them getting perks at the expense of ordinary vendors.”
National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe (NVUZ) chairperson Mr Sten Zworwadza said: “We have been marginalised for long but we now want to work with Government to ensure there is financial inclusion.
“President Mnangagwa has proved to be a double hero and we see him fit to solve the challenges we are facing daily. We will not rally behind leaders who do not even care for us but who instead perpetuate our suffering.”
The vendors presented grievances relating to harassment and corruption, access to loan facilities and Government empowerment programmes, housing and social security.
The also called on Government to establish a one-stop shop for transporters to register their vehicles with ease, regularise “mushikashika” and standardise duty.
Responding to the issues, President Mnangagwa, who was represented by Zanu-PF national chairperson Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, said the inaugural meeting marked the beginning of a new journey between Government and the informal sector community.
“Allow me to appreciate your culture of hard work, resilience, determination and perseverance,” he said.
“We applaud the role you have played over the years in keeping the economy afloat and providing for your families, making sure that there is food on the table, that children go to school and that your families have roof over their heads. It is upon this background that my administration saw it fit to be part of this historic meeting to hear your concerns, first hand, as we together chart strategies on how we should collectively build the Zimbabwe we all want, brick upon brick, stone upon stone.”
President Mnangagwa said Government wanted to improve the lives of Zimbabweans.
“While we are meeting on the eve of an election, we must all, however, realise that there is life after elections,” he said.
“Great work awaits us thereafter, great work must be done in every area and sector to increase the economic opportunities for all our people, especially youth and women, to create wealth for more of our people. Our country must quickly develop, leapfrog and catch up with the rest of the region and beyond. To this end, my Government has made the deliberate decision to now focus on economic development, modernisation, industrialisation and improvement of our infrastructure. This will lead to the creation of more decent jobs, put food on our tables, put more children in schools, lead to affordable health care and decent housing.”
To achieve this, the President said, unity and peace were needed.
“My Government is committed to comprehensively address the challenges in the context of the broader macro-economic reality,” President Mnangagwa said.
“It is committed to fight corruption at every level hence we are strengthening institutions that fight graft. We say no to corruption within councils and corruption at our border posts.”
He urged vendors to make use of the Women Macro Finance Bank and Empower Bank for the youths which are offering flexible loans.
He said refurbishment of roads would continue while land barons would be dealt with using the findings of the land audit on cities and towns.
NVUZ has partnered with POSB, TelOne and NetOne, which are offering several packages meant to empower vendors.
The firms yesterday took time to explain to the vendors the various strategies they are employing to support vendors.