Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko set himself on a collision course with vendors after he said he did not understand why able-bodied people should engage in subsistence trading.
While addressing Zanu PF supporters at provincial party headquarters at Davies Hall on Sunday during his maiden “Meet the People” tour in Bulawayo, Mphoko went against the concept of self-help vending when he decried the practice which has become a last resort for the growing number of jobless people in towns and cities to eke out a living.
“I have got my own views regarding vending where you find an able-bodied man seated selling tomatoes. There are better things to do for someone who is fit except for those who are indisposed and physically-challenged,” the vice president said.
He was responding to a question by a woman only identified as Ma Sibanda who wanted to know of what help was the VP to the vendors in the city who have had several running battles with municipal police officers and law enforcers.
“You should wake up and see what you can do for a living. We cannot tolerate a man who is fit, sitting down and selling tomatoes. No, let’s do something better,” he said without suggesting an alternative. His utterances come at a time when Zimbabwe has been virtually turned into an informal state as the once thriving industries have been turned into shells due to decades of political and economic mismanagement.
Currently, the country’s unemployment rate is estimated to be hovering above 90 percent. An estimated $400 million is needed if efforts to ensure a complete recovery of Bulawayo, once the hub of industry in Zimbabwe, are to achieve meaningful results.
Last year, during her “Meet the People” tour, First Lady Grace Mugabe became a darling of many after she came out guns blazing against law enforcers whom she ordered to stop harassing vendors. However, speaking on the revival of the second largest city, Mphoko said Bulawayo would rise again.
He said the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) should be booted out of the city if proper roads management has to be achieved.
“As for Zinara, it should be there but it should go outside the city and leave Bulawayo alone,” Mphoko said.
“There used to be a Road Department which we grew up knowing. We now pay for vehicle licences at Zinara which is a national institute. Why not let Bulawayo maintain its own roads. We used to pay for vehicle licences at Revenue Hall and that money was used to maintain local roads.”
This comes after the Bulawayo City Council has challenged Zinara over its failure to allocate funds to the former for road maintenance.
Mphoko, who described Bulawayo as a stand-alone city, said it was time everything that belonged to the city should be returned.
This, he said included the Bulawayo Power Station which was compulsorily handed over to Zesa.
“Bulawayo must be Bulawayo again. The electricity generated at power stations here belongs to Bulawayo, therefore it should revert to its original owners as should electricity generated from power stations in Harare and that is the kind of efficiency we know,” Mphoko added.