The City of Harare intends to close big markets including Mbare Musika and Mupedzanhamo this Saturday in a bid to curb COVID-19 from spreading. They are engaging government on the matter. Council with the help of police, yesterday, began directing vendors to vacate undesignated workspaces in the Central Business District amid skirmishes.
With the risk that accompany Covid-19, City Fathers are taking no chances but to decongest the city and minimise human contact which is vital in stopping the spreading virus. In a statement, the City of Harare health department said traders would be expected to completely vacate the city centre by March 27. “We advise that for those operating in designated areas such as Markets and Home Industries, council is consulting with Central Government for the closure of the same starting 28 March, 2020.
“Should the consultation succeed, traders in all markets must vacate all markets and home industries by end of day on the 27th of March,” reads part of the statement.
The health department has also called for corporation from members of the informal sector. “These measures are being taken in light of the Covid-19 virus which is currently ravaging the whole world. “Under normal circumstances council would have done consultative meetings with members of the informal sector in line with our engagement model with all stakeholders,” continued the statement. Over the years there has been raging battles between municipal police, the ZRP and vendors in trying to keep the Harare CBD as a safe environment.
However, critics say any misstep handling the informal sector in battling Covid-19 will aggravate poverty or lead to social unrest as A host of African countries have also adopted such sweeping
measures in a bid to curb further spread of the Corona virus. As of March 19, about 33 African countries had been hit with more than 600 confirmed cases and 17 deaths. More than 40 people have so far recovered from the virus. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), it defines informal employment as all remunerative work including self-employment and wage employment that is not registered, regulated or protected by existing legal or regulatory frameworks, as well as no remunerative work undertaken in an income-producing enterprise.
Informal workers typically do not have secure employment contracts, benefits, social protection or collective representation, according to the ILO. Those working in the informal economy are in the bottom or lower middle-income segments of the population whose efforts have been identified by the United Nations to transition out of the informal
economy. The World Health Organisation has warned that COVID-19 can spread fast in poor sanitation facilities where proliferation of informal economy and urban crowding pose additional challenges in the efforts to combat the highly infectious disease.