Food for Thought: Street Vending on the Streets of Zimbabwe

In, March is the month symbolizing the end of the wet season.  In most cases people in the urban areas rely on farmers to produce and sell to them their farm produce which includes our cuisines mostly.  The food that is predominantly produced by these farmers includes Chibage (mealies), Nzungu (ground nuts), Nyimo (round nuts), Nyemba (cow peas), Manhanga (pumpkins), Tomatoes etcetera. When these foods are ripe (early March to mid April) just before harvesting time, they sell some of the fresh produce to vendors who will thus sell the foods as fresh or cooked food to the consumer.

Starting from early millennium when the economy of the country started to crumble, most people opted to go to urban areas in pursuit of a better living.  Most of them who were without qualifications started to be involved in street vending.  The government didn’t welcome the move as the majority of the vendors were operating without licenses, worse still they were operating at prohibited areas.  However, as time goes on people started to realize that these vendors were bringing back the indigenous cuisines which they had last ate a long time ago due to convenient food products that are now flooding the market.

If you are walking in most of the streets in Zimbabwe’s cities, especially in the ghettos and at local terminus, vendors will be all over trying to make a life through sales.  These vendors will be selling Roasted Mealies, Roasted Ground Nuts and Cooked Round Nuts, Oranges, Naartjies, Bananas, Guavas amongst other foods especially during this period.  People always consume these foods with enjoyment not only because of affordability (value for money) but because these food items remind them of Kumusha (ekhaya / at home).  Kumusha is where these foods are produced mostly by small scale farmers.  Others even decided to start kitchens on the streets of light industries where they will be selling Sadza (pap) served with either Hove (fish), Maguru (tripe), Beef or Chicken depending on the menu of the day.

Even though street vendors who do not have licenses are sometimes raided by the police, some have managed to acquire licenses and rose from just being a street vendor to becoming suppliers of fresh produce to small business enterprises.

Do you think street vending should be illegal? Or it should be legal if done at designated places? What if customers are not willing to walk to that designated area and prefer to buy in the street? Or should government entities that are responsible for the cities build mini in some of the streets populated by vendors? – Msanzi Style

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