Informal traders in Bulawayo heaved a sigh of relief following the relaxation of lockdown restrictions which allowed them a degree of leverage to operate with ease. However, they still have to grapple with closed borders, economic challenges and clashes with authorities.
The lockdown in its strictest form, presented an unprecedented situation for Bulawayo informal traders to stay afloat. With the recent easing of restrictions came joy for the traders who had endured a torrid time in confinement to their homes.
Mr Mkhulunywelwa Maphosa who is part of Market Bailiffs who monitors COVID-19 compliance in Food and Agricultural Markets in Bulawayo, under Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) funded Sizimele Consortium said, “Presently the situation has improved in that vendors have the freedom to go about their businesses. However there is a lot of complacency which is dangerous to the whole Bulawayo community.”
Maphosa revealed that vendors applaud ZRBF Sizimele which offers assistance to vendors and informal traders.
“They also thank the ZRBF Sizimele for distributing sanitisers, face masks and water dispensers in all vending markets in Bulawayo. Vendors in Bulawayo are also happy in that they receive trainings in business skills, financial literacy and online trading,” added Maphosa.
Although there is a general feeling of relief and excitement among informal traders due to the easing of conditions, some of the challenges they faced pre lockdown are still bugging them.
“The situation is pretty much the same for some of us because we are still facing the same challenges we had pre-lockdown. We are still being subjected to unfair treatment by the police and we have lost customers because of this prevailing economic situation and the borders remain closed”, said Madade Ndlovu an informal trader.
When asked about what his organization is doing in a bid to help informal traders, Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) President Aleck Ndlovu said, “Our organization is advocating strongly for the protection of the livelihoods by both local authorities and Government while enforcing lockdown regulations and COVID-19 protocols. We are also pushing the Government to assist members with the promised COVID-19 cushioning allowances,” he said.