THE National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) yesterday reacted angrily to weekend remarks which were reportedly made by Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko while in Bulawayo where he said he least expected able-bodied men to go into vending, describing the practice as due to laziness.
Addressing Zanu PF supporters at the party’s provincial headquarters at Davies Hall at the weekend, Mphoko reportedly took a jibe at vendors.
But the union in a statement said said Mphoko’s remarks reflected that he was insensitive and out of touch with reality , considering that the bulk of Zimbabwe’s working class had turned to vending due to the high rate of unemployment.
“While Navuz could not independently verify the authenticity of the statement, we, however, felt Vice-President Mphoko should be reminded that the majority of men are into vending not by choice, but because there are no jobs in the country,” the statement read.
“Surely do we need to remind the Vice-President that with the more than 90% unemployment rate, it means that only a fraction of the estimated 13 million people is formally employed, roughly over a million if we are to go with the estimates?”
The union added: “Every year, close to more than 5 000 people graduate in Zimbabwe from State universities, polytechs, nursing schools, teachers’ colleges, apprenticeships to name but a few, and all these people are expecting to be part of that 10%. One need not apply any special thinking to know that the opportunities are extremely limited and oversubscribed, hence vending naturally becomes an option.”
Navuz said they were compelled to respond since Mphoko had not publicly disowned the reports.
“The comments are very unfortunate and ill-informed as they lack an appreciation of the prevailing economic circumstances in Zimbabwe.”
“It is high time people like Vice-President Mphoko came to the full realisation that, as long as the government and all its agencies fail to address the fundamentals, vendors and vending is here to stay. We urge Vice-President Mphoko to stop fighting vendors who are genuinely trying to earn a living, but instead assist them to get organised, formalised and eventually legalised.”