By Alois Vinga
THE International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has written to President Robert Mugabe advising him to urgently rescind his order against street vendors in Harare, saying the move was a violation of International Labour Organisation standards.The letter, seen by The Financial Gazette and dated October 19, 2017 and undersigned by ITUC general secretary, Sharon Barrow, condemned the ongoing purge on vendors.
“I am writing on behalf of the ITUC, representing 181 million workers in 163 countries and territories in 340 national centres. We strongly condemn government’s order to forcibly remove street vendors from the central business district of Harare, and we urge the government to urgently proceed to its cancellation,” said the letter.
Barrow reminded Mugabe that the ongoing eviction of vendors was a violation of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. She said that government must adopt policies that gave every Zimbabwean the opportunity to work.
Zimbabweans, who have resorted to vending due to extremely high levels of unemployment, should be allowed to freely choose activities to earn a decent living. Barrow said there was urgent need to create jobs and honour the pledge by the ruling party to create two million jobs promised during the campaign for the 2013 elections. Government, said Barrow, should also formalise the informal economy, which includes street vending.
“Zimbabwe is faced with a worsening informal economy and, in fact, only 15,5 percent of all working people have formal employment and permanent contracts. Instead of harassing street vendors the government should develop policies that contribute to creating the proposed 2,2 million jobs.
“In 2015, the government of Zimbabwe endorsed ILO recommendation 204 on the transition from formal to informal economy and has committed to developing a formalisation strategy plan with the support of the ILO. The enforced evictions of street vendors and clashes with police officers constitute serious violations of international labour standards. We urge the government to take necessary measures to guarantee the resettlement of people affected by such actions,” she added.
Mugabe recently ordered a crackdown on street traders in Harare after briefing a ZANU-PF party youth assembly meeting that the city had been invaded by illegal vendors.
He blamed street traders for unnecessarily blocking roads, saying that most streets had become dirty hence the urgent need to clear the city. The city then launched a blitz called Operation Restore Order to forcibly remove illegal traders, tearing down their stalls.