• Written by Kimberley Wellington
  • Published in Business
Image is a Collage from various News Sites in Zimbabwe Image is a Collage from various News Sites in Zimbabwe

Article 4 of 15 on the ZIMCONOMICS Series.

Vendors are now a reality in city centres, without or without Council approvals.

The argument against street vendors vary from unhealthy practices to pedestrian congestion to noise and visual pollution in the city the list is endless.

These queries have led to intolerable treatment of these men and women by the City Council and shop owners.

Despite efforts to protect them by unions such as the National Vendors Union the council men find one reason or another just to disrupt their business.

Many can relate to these people considering the economic hardships in the country and unemployment flying over the roof; they have resorted to vending to make earns meet.

Let us take a minute to appreciate the influence vendors have; this monopolistic competition has contributed to price regulations to a greater extent.

In truth many are retail out lets, supermarkets, wholesalers and the like are selling products that are differentiated from one another (e.g. by branding or quality) and hence are not perfect substitutes; it’s all the same product.

This has created competition for their outlets, as street vendors are now able to sell for example Creamora and Ricoffee on the street, at an even cheaper price than a supermarket.

As scores of them line up on pavements and sidewalks they sell different wares from food, to household goods, to clothing, with prices set to lure customers, making their products very affordable.

Shop owners nearby are now forced to set their prices almost similar to the vendors in order not to lose business.

Vendors create competition for the retailors and force price reductions and offer promotions; without such competition retailors would be charging unreasonable prices.

They also allow bargaining which the best salesman wins business; something that customers appreciate. Carrying bags are for free unlike in retail shops like Spar OK where they are sold for 10c or more; with some offering fancy carrying bags.

Simple things like these, is what has guaranteed their survival throughout the years, and causing the unemployed to enter vending.

They are very easy to set up and have help to create a livelihood for thousands in Zimbabwe at a time the public and private sectors have has failed to provide employment.

A friend of mine was in Italy for his honeymoon during the festive season, it was to his amusement to notice street vendors in Rome, with the same set up as here at home on sidewalks and different wares sold on card boxes.

China has also a reputable number of its people as vendors some who have exported this to other countries creating what are known as China cities or town.

Yet these two economies are worth trillions China as the richest sitting at number one on world records with a GDP of $17.632 trillion and Italy worth $2.066 trillion in 2014.

In 2013 the Harare City Council was among Zimbabwean local authorities was under fire for exorbitant salaries where being paid to directors, earning half a million a month; the same money needed for operationalizing bylaws and make Harare better.

Such corrupt conducts are the ones that prevent full establishment of areas where vendors can sell; Council benefiting from vendor fees and stimulate further activity in the country and economic growth.

There is an argument by City Councils that there are designated areas for vending no longer applies as these were based on the old transport system of buses and not the current unpredictable taxi stations.

Furthermore, no one can predict the behaviour of consumers as they move around town shopping, hence the best locations for vendors is actually in the areas of high consumer traffic concentration; that not going down well with City Councils. 

Business mogul Philip Chiyangwa started out as a vendor and now is worth millions; a land developer, transporter, and so forth.

A perfect example of great entrepreneurship skills some of these people possess a different view of vendors could actually benefit Zimbabwe.