The Informal Sector Workers have welcomed the halting of plans to remove street vendors from the Lusaka Central Business District. The Alliance for Zambia Informal Economy Associations (AZIE) General Secretary, Lameck Kashiwa, has called on the government to engage all stakeholders and plan collectively before making any decision regarding street vending. Kashiwa noted with concern that the government, through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, was quick to make a decision on the removal of street vendors from the Lusaka Central Business District before finding alternative trading places for them.
Street vending is an important source of livelihood for many Zambians, particularly those who are unemployed or underemployed. These vendors rely on the income they earn from their small businesses to support themselves and their families. However, street vending can also have negative impacts on public health and safety, as well as on the overall aesthetic of the city.
To address these concerns, the government had planned to remove street vendors from the Lusaka Central Business District in order to combat cholera and other diarrheal diseases. Local Government and Rural Development Minister Garry Nkombo had directed local authorities to ensure all street vendors are moved to designated trading places by Monday, January 16th, 2023. However, this decision was met with resistance from the Informal Sector Workers, who argued that removing street vendors without providing alternative trading places would negatively impact their businesses and livelihoods.
In response to these concerns, President Hakainde Hichilema has directed that no street vendors should be removed from the streets until further consultations are done. Kashiwa has since commended President Hichilema for this decision, noting that for the informal sector to succeed, the government needs to put in place measures that will support their businesses.
However, some street vendors have vowed not to vacate the streets citing lack of trading space in markets. They have argued that they largely depend on their small businesses for income and removing them out of the street without an alternative trading place will negatively affect their businesses.
Meanwhile, the Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) Executive Director Leah Mitaba has condemned the move by the government to restrict street vending without providing adequate trading places in the central business district. She has advised the government to broaden areas of economic activities which people can be involved in to ensure proper restriction of street vending going forward.
Some commentators said that , while the government’s move to combat cholera and other diarrheal diseases is commendable, it is important to engage all stakeholders and find alternative trading places for the street vendors before making any decision. The informal sector plays a significant role in the country’s Gross Domestic Product and measures to support their businesses should be put in place to ensure their success. It is crucial for the government to involve the community, private sector, and other stakeholders in this process to find a solution that benefits all parties involved.