By Praisemore Sithole

BULAWAYO vendors on Thursday joined the world in commemorating the International Street Vendors Day, which ran under the theme “Unity is our Strength”.

Informal traders commemorate International Street Vendors Day on November 14 each year.

Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) executive director Michael Ndiweni said the day was special because it showed the strength and unity of vendors.

“This day is very important and special because it demonstrates the strength and unity of vendors as they thrive for the growth of the economy,” he told Southern Eye.

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“Vendors contribution to the economy has been constantly ignored, especially in Zimbabwe but they constitute about 60% of the economy and we are striving to reach about 80%.”

Ndiweni said they were constantly engaging the local authority to ensure the protection of vendors against harassment.

“We salute street vendors, who have endured harassment and confiscation of their wares, yet still continue to fend for families, while their contributions to the country’s Gross Domestic Product,” he said.

“In this vein, we are calling for due recognition of the contribution of street vendors to the national economy and government and its various agencies to deal with challenges faced by vendors.”

Ndiweni called for urgent decriminalisation of vending, reiterating his call for a strategy to transition from street vending to formal trading.

“Some of the problems of vendors such as being harassed have emanated from the legal framework; therefore some of the laws have to be changed to reduce harassment,” he said.

He urged the government to tailor-make social security schemes for street vendors, especially women.

“We have engaged with the council so that vendors can pay taxes. This will reduce the harassment of vendors as they will enjoy protection from council.”