By Nozipho Rutsate
Masvingo, November 30, 2016 – Zanu PF led government crafted its five-year economic blueprint, ZimAsset in 2013, which, top among its objectives, was massive job creation.
Although the blueprint promised to create more than 2,2 million fresh jobs, Zanu PF political opponents and economic experts say not a single job has been created.
Rather, more jobs have been lost during the period with the country’s unemployment rate often said to be hovering above an alarming 90 percent.
Tarisai Katini, a vendor plying his trade at Masvingo’s Grace Mugabe Trade Centre popularly known as the ‘Chitima market’, broods over his situation and only wishes government could fulfil its promises.
Katini runs a rundown stall selling trinkets.
“Surprisingly, of all those promised jobs, we saw only one post to the President’s son in-law; Simba Chikoore being unveiled which left us, the jobless hurt as we have been expectant to no avail,” he says.
Because of job scarcity, most people like Katini have found vending the only way to keep the proverbial wolf from the door.
But this has come with its own hazards as the vendors quite often find themselves involved in cat and mouse games with municipal police who either confiscate their wares or take bribes.
Many companies have since shut down because of viability problems directly linked to the country’s crumbling economy, in the process spilling millions into the streets.
And due to the high unemployment rate, the country’s major cities are reeling from an ever rising influx of vendors who have invaded every available street and pavements in CBDs.
Knowledge Manokoro, a media studies graduate also finds himself vending and quite often tries to avoid being seen by those he went to university with.
“I don’t want this (vending),” he says.
“No one from my family is happy seeing me like this after struggling to pay exorbitant varsity fees…but honestly, I have no choice. I have to provide something on the table for my family to compensate the struggles they went through in having me educated. I never dreamt of such a life either.”
Manokoro sells second hand clothes behind a top supermarket in the city centre.
Those who got into vending after losing their jobs to mass closing of industries wish they could turn back the hands of time.
Eustina Masikati is also a former Cold Storage Commission employee who lost her job when the company shut down years back.
She now sells fresh fruits on the streets and makes a profit of less than five dollars a day and also tells of the daily hardships of having to dodge municipal police everyday in efforts to make a living.
The vending crisis remains a countrywide problem with major cities like Harare and Bulawayo hosting huge armies of vendors every day.
City fathers in some authorities such as Harare have quite often clashed with central government which has deployed Zimbabwean police to drive out vendors from city streets.
Masvingo Mayor, Hubert Fidze has openly said that vendors were a Zanu PF problem noting that government’s failure to create employment left many with no choice but to eke out a living in the streets.
The current government is thought to be afraid of the dangers the dense concentration of vendors can bring to it in times of civil unrest.