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Vendors Condemn New Lockdown Measures

INFORMAL traders in Bulawayo have expressed serious concerns over the government’s decision to effect a new Level IV lockdown measures, which will see the suspension of all formal and non-formal businesses across the country.

Of concern to the traders is that the government will, during the lockdown, fail to provide social protection.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles as health minister, Saturday reinstated tough Covid-19 lockdown measures implemented in March last year, and will come into effect Tuesday.

Chiwenga told the media, the reintroduced strict measures will be reviewed after 30 days, and had been necessitated by rising cases of Covid-19.

The Informal Economy Agenda Coalition, a representative of informal workers, traders, vendors and cross border traders, said while they welcomed the government’s move in the wake of spiralling Covid-19 cases, they were seriously concerned with the welfare of their members during the 30-day lockdown.

“The Informal Economy Agenda Coalition acknowledges and welcomes efforts made by the government to try and contain the rapid spread of Covid-19. It is, however, of concern to the informal sector representative organisations that there are no provisions for social protection for vulnerable groups. We are also concerned that market places have been placed under total closure,” the organisation said in a statement.

“It would have been preferable if licensed traders were allowed to continue operating under strict Covid-19 compliance rules.”

The coalition cited the Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) which had made significant strides in preventing the spreading of Covid-19.

“The Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association has already made significant strides in providing materials such as hand sanitisers, face masks and water dispensers for washing hands in over 22 markets in Bulawayo.

“It is also disappointing that the cushioning fund introduced by the government in April 2020 came very late and did not benefit the majority of informal traders. Informal cross border traders will be badly affected by the new regulations,” the informal traders’ group said.

It predicted a loss of more lives at illegal crossing points Beitbridge Border Post as they attempted to cross into South Africa because of the lockdown.

Members of the Informal Economy Agenda Coalition are; the Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association, the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation, the Women Alliance of Business Associations in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Cross-Border Traders Association and the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations.

Chiwenga who is also the health minister of Health, said the ban will affect bars, bottle stores, gyms and restaurants for one month.

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