Independence celebrations a boon for vendors

Vendors found a fat cow in the estimated 60,000 crowd that attended the 34th independence anniversary at the National Sports Stadium on Friday.

Vendors at Zimbabwe 34th Independence Celebrations, Harare National Sports Stadium
Vendors at Zimbabwe 34th Independence Celebrations, Harare National Sports Stadium

Hundreds of vendors displaying edibles ranging from sweets to meat and clothing such as Zanu (PF) and Dynamos Football Club regalia crowded the entrances to the stadium.

Photographers, who usually ply their trade at both the Harare Unity Square and Harare Gardens, had their fair share of the cake as they provided instant picture services to the excited crowds.

Stephen Muhwema (34), a fast food vendor at Mbare Mupedzanhamo Flea Market, said he had temporarily shifted base to the National Sports Stadium in the hope of huge returns from the multitudes.

“Business is brisk here and am making profits of my life,” Muhwema told The Zimbabwean.

An off-layer chicken bought for $3 would earn him $8 when sold as roasted pieces at the stadium. Two potatoes turned into fried chips would be sold for $1. According to Muhwema, a pocket of 50 potatoes cost $13, leaving him with $12 profit per pocket.

From 8 am to 5pm he had sold 22 chickens and 15 pockets of potatoes at his several mobile kitchens strategically stationed at the stadium, raking in $290 in profits. By the end of the event spiced with the Uhuru Cup that pitted Dynamos Football Club against FC Platinum, Muhwema and other vendors expected to pocket no less than $500 each.

“As much as we would have wanted to celebrate inside the stadium, for the informal sector workers in my situation, this is the all-time opportunity to make money,” said Mahwema.

Nancy Muzondo of Kuwadzana selling yellow berets for $5 with a Zanu (PF) insignia indicating that Zimbabwe had turned 34, said: “This is the golden opportunity to raise children’s school fees.”

Each beret, Muzondo said, was bought from backyard tailors at $1. Towards the end of the celebrations she had sold 120 of the yellow berets. She hired several assistants who went around the stadium advertising her wares.

“Do your best in whatever you do. Be it piggery, chicken project or anything, give it your best,” Mugabe told the crowd to the pleasure of vendors and others in the informal sector, who cheered loudly.

Vendors’ daily lives are characterised by cat-and-mouse games with the police who accuse them of conducting business at undesignated areas without licences.

Vendors Associations have called on government to give their members space to operate peacefully.

The Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy and the Alternative Business Alliance urged government to accept the reality that the majority of Zimbabweans live on informal sector activity, as a result of continued company closures.

Approximately 87 percent of Zimbabweans earn a living outside the formal employment.

The ABA secretary, Melody Nemaire, said: “Government should follow global trends which allow vendors to earn a living without undue harassment and contribute to the country’s revenue base.”

The Zanu (PF) Harare Province Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Department recently urged vendors to get organised and engage government regarding regularising their activities.

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