Bulawayo Vendors Group In Attempts To Capacitate Members


By Dumisani Nyoni

Bulawayo, August 25, 2016 – DUE to the country’s protracted economic crisis, the city of Bulawayo has, in recent years, lost its industrial hub status to become a teeming vending district.

However, despite keeping the proverbial wolf from the door for much of the time, street vendors are still confronted by their own challenges, not least among them lack of ablution facilities, lack of proper vending structures and no law to govern their operations.

Female vendors particularly, feel the heat when it comes to the use of ablution facilities.

RadioVOP this week caught up with Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association programs coordinator, Michael Ndiweni, who spoke about their challenges and the new measures they have placed to ameliorate them.

“There are no toilets; As such, women going through menstruation cycles find it difficult to survive. Some would want to change their pads but cannot because of lack supporting facilities,” Ndiweni said.

He also said there are no policies protecting vendors.

On top of their troubles, Ndiweni said, income obtained through the trade is ever dwindling as individual vendors always face competition from the ever ballooning number of vendors trying to make a living.

Because of this, he added, their source of “employment” shall ever remain  insecure.

“Their incomes are often minimal and their sales fluctuate,” he said.

It is crucial for policymakers to acknowledge and address these challenges, Ndiweni said.

He said as an organisation championing the rights of vendors, they have launched a self-funded training programme to sensitise members on their constitutional rights and guard against abuse by municipal police.

He said the training was in response to the continued confiscation of their wares coupled with the inhumane treatment they received from municipal police officers.

Recently, four municipal police were left hospitalised after they were assaulted by angry vendors, who were protesting against the confiscation of their goods.

Ndiweni said vendors have constitutional rights, which must be respected, hence, the training exercise to sensitise them on their rights.

“Our organisation has noted that the rights of vendors and informal traders are frequently violated by municipal police in city of Bulawayo and, hence, their rights must be protected and promoted,” he said.

He said they have also observed that a proportionate number of vendors were not aware of their rights or the means to seek recourse when their rights were violated.

“We then call for measures that will empower vendors to speak up for their rights,” he said.

Ndiweni said they were seeking to reach all vendors doted around Bulawayo’s 29 municipal wards.

By supporting street vendors, Ndiweni said cities could foster equitable development and improve the livelihood of society’s most vulnerable populations.


BVTA inspires 197 vendors with leadership skills in Bulawayo

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) has successfully executed Leadership and Advocacy Trainings in Bulawayo’ 29 wards targeting its Wards Committee structures, poised to inspire vendors and informal traders to have better lives.

The objects of the trainings were to enhance the leadership and public policy advocacy capabilities of its ward structures. One hundred and ninety seven (197) members of the Ward Structures were trained. BVTA carried out trainings after noting that most those occupying positions lacked adequate leadership and advocacy skills that hinder their effectiveness in mobilizing and providing leadership at local level. This is part of BVTA`s broad strategy as enshrined in their 2016 – 2018 Strategic Plan to build capacity of vendors to be able function and have better lives.

The scope of the trainings focused on BVTA Constitution and reminded the structures on their leadership constitutional obligations, their term of office as well as functions and roles played by BVTA Executive Committee.

Essentially the trainings acquainted members of Ward Structures about key aspects in leadership. The trainings emphasized that leadership is about motivation, inspiring people to aspire and make positive contributions in communities and changing their lives. Ward structures were sharpened with knowledge on qualities of good leaders for example that good leaders have a vision for the future, have strength of personality, the will power of a never say die attitude.
The Ward structures were made aware that good leadership is not about use of coercive means, force, and abuse of authority, abuse of power or use of threats to get the work done.

The course handed BVTA Ward leaders with a tools box of leadership skills that is envisaged to assist in leading membership within communities. It emphasized that leadership skills are tools, behaviors and capabilities that a person needs in order to be at motivating and directing others. The skills were portrayed as characters of professions such as the behavior of a Captain who directs the sail, who delegates duties, gardener someone who cultivates trusts and makes members of the group feel the sense of belonging and ownership of the group or organization. Furthermore, a diplomat someone who is able to solve conflicts that are inevitable in groups, the talk show host someone who is an effective communicator and who masters nonverbal communication among other skills.

The training course was complemented by imparting vendors with lobby and advocacy skills that will enable vendors and informal traders to organize themselves and speak against to find solutions that affect them in their day to day lives. The course has already to motivated vendors to organize themselves and speak in one voice in order to improve their conditions especially the constant violation of rights and abuse from law enforcement agents. An increase of vendors visiting the organizational offices to join the association has been recorded.

One woman vendor from Ward 7 confessed how the training has helped her to change the way she thinks and  conducted her business “I have been stuck in my vending bay for the rest of my life to the point that I had quit attending church services, these trainings have made me to gain useful information to do other things, I have learnt that I can delegate someone to remain manning my vending bay whilst I attend to other issues in the community and seeking other opportunities that may arise in the informal sector”

The trainings envisages to improve coordination of activities of vendors and informal traders at ward level. This form of decentralization will make the organisation more accessible and be able to promptly respond to the needs of vendors across the city.

Rights of vendors and informal traders must be promoted

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni and Cherish Mbulawa-Intern

Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA)  has noted that the rights of vendors and informal traders are frequently violated by municipal police in city of Bulawayo and hence their rights must protected and promoted.
Vending has become a source of livelihood for many people due to economic challenges bedevilling the country, efforts must made to have a there multi stakeholder to promote their rights. We have also observed that a proportionate number of vendors are not aware of their rights nor the means to seek recourse when their rights are violated. The existence of this knowledge gap has resulted in their rights being infringed. In addition lack of clearly defined policies results in the abuse of vendors’ rights. We then call for measures that will empower vendors to speak up for their rights.
The constitution of Zimbabwe in Chapter (4) Section (56) Subsection (1) states that all persons are equal before the law and have the right to equal protection and benefit of the law. Fulfilling Chapter (2) Section (14) Subsection (1) which states that institutions, and agencies at every level must endeavour to facilitate and take measures to empower through appropriate and affirmative action all marginalised persons, groups and communities.
As part of our small contribution to sensitize vendors about their rights, we have embarked on training of vendors on social and economic rights and on how they can demand and promote their rights.
We believe and strive to empower vendors as an identified marginalised group. Vendors have the same rights that are accorded to all Zimbabweans stated in Chapter (4) Section (56) Subsection (2) which include right to equal treatment, right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres.

Empirical evidence shows the astronomical   growth of the informal sector in Zimbabwe and Bulawayo in particular. The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT 2014) says 84% of Zimbabweans are employed in the informal sector. Estimates are that over 300,000 people in Bulawayo are in the informal economy with the majority struggling to access licences and suitable trading places.

Conversely,  in the absence of clear policy guidelines for local authorities from government, councils like Bulawayo City Council as service provides for the sector have not moved with speed to address licencing and public trading space challenges.  This has resulted in a difficult working environment for vendors and informal traders, the majority of whom are women and youths. Vendors are subjected to arbitrary removals from their trading places and have their goods confiscated by corrupt police officers and council officials.

We are a membership based organisation of vendors and informal traders that exists to expand economic opportunities for the urban poor in Bulawayo. Our  work includes conscientising our members about socio-economic rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe, identifying existing policy and legal constraints facing informal traders and engaging in policy advocacy.