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Prioritise disabled and informal traders, govt urged



PEOPLE with disabilities (PWDs) have called on government to put in place social safety nets for them and informal traders, instead of destroying their homes and trading stalls in the face of COVID-19.

This came out during a virtual meeting hosted by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) last Friday, where attendees discussed the effects of demolitions of illegal structures and vending stalls by local authorities and government.

They said this had severely affected PWDs, who are mostly informal traders.

The virtual meeting ran under the theme Demolitions: Their Legality and Their Impact on People with Disabilities Security and Livelihoods.

Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation programmes manager Tariro Munyereyi said PWDs were the most affected as they did not have the ability to run away or defend themselves against municipal police during demolitions.

“Informal traders go where there is a natural flow of business, which is not the case for PWDs. There are inadequate vending spaces, hence there is huge competition which leaves PWDs more exposed and they end up on pavements, which are not safe for them,” Munyereyi said.

“They (PWDs) are more vulnerable to police as they are not able to run or defend themselves during altercations with the police, hence they end up being forced to pay bribes to secure their safety.

“There is a lack of communication from responsible authorities and residents in most cases are not offered alternative solutions or other locations to work from before the demolitions. According to section 22 of the Constitution, government should assist PWDs with funds for income-generating activities and this must be a priority. Government is immensely failing in this aspect.”

Munyereyi said it was imperative for government to put in place measures that ensured that its officers were able to handle PWDs during demolitions.

“Council officers are not even trained to talk to, and handle PWDs, for example, use of sign language, which is an issue that must be addressed. Market spaces are being hugely politicised, which is also a great disadvantage. In such instances, government should introduce social grants to cushion the informal sector, mainly PWDs,” she said.

Recently, government and local authorities demolished vending stalls across the city, which also affected PWDs.

Trade unions called government to order saying the demolition of vending stalls would affect people’s livelihoods.  They said government should provide social grants to the vulnerable.

Follow Lorraine on Twitter @RMuromo


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