BY NIZBERT MOYO/PRAISEMORE SITHOLE

BULAWAYO vendors have appealed to the government to consider their plight during the newly introduced lockdown measures which they say will subject them to further poverty.

Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga on Saturday reviewed the country’s COVID-19 lockdown measures that will see formal and non-formal businesses being suspended from Tuesday for a period of month.

Essential services such as hospitals, pharmacies and supermarkets will remain open with only essential staff allowed to go to work while businesses will be operating from 8am to 3pm.

But Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association director Michael Ndiweni told Southern Eye yesterday that they were aggrieved that marketplaces were closed.

“We are, however, aggrieved that market places were placed under outright closure,” he said.

“It was going to be better if licensed traders were allowed to operate with strict COVID-19 protocols compliance, since organisations like ours had made significant strides in providing materials like hand washing sanitisers, masks and hand washing water dispensers in over 22 markets in Bulawayo.’’

He added that they hoped the government would immediately announce measures to cater for social protection for vendors and informal traders since their livelihoods would be curtailed for 30 days.

“Our view still stands that some shops can be designated across the borders and be strictly monitored for COVID-19 compliance,” he said.

An outright ban on Informal Cross Border Traders would mean that some people will risk their lives through illegal points, including the crocodile-infested Limpopo River, he added.

Dumisani Nkomo, chief executive of Habakkuk Trust, a human-rights lobby group, said while it was necessary to take action, government  should have come up with mitigatory measures than completely ban cross-border trading.

“It is necessary to take action but have other migratory measures other than just closing businesses,” he said.

Nkomo said government should come up with measures to protect vulnerable members of the society.

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