The Harare City Council has banned food vendors from operations in Zimbabwe’s capital following an outbreak of typhoid which has left at least two people dead.
In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, Acting Town Clerk, Josephine Ncube, said circumstances on the ground have forced the local authority to take drastic measures to contain the spread of the disease.
The Harare city council also added that it was aware of a public backlash from the vendors, adding that the move was only “temporarily” pending improved results on the ground.
The statement read: “Preliminary investigations have shown that the key drivers of typhoid and any other water borne diseases are issues related to personal hygiene, unregulated vending of foodstuffs such as vegetables, meat, fish (cooked and uncooked) and inadequate water supplies.
“There are issues that we can immediately control/regulate to ensure that we contain the spread of typhoid. One of these is street vending. We are therefore issuing a 48 hour ultimatum to all food vendors operating within the Harare Metropolitan area to temporarily cease operations forthwith. The ban will be reviewed depending on improvements on the ground.”
“Pushcarts used in the Central Business District will be impounded during the exercise. Impounded fruits, meat, maize, fish and vegetables will be destroyed. This action is being taken with the interests of the majority at heart.
“We are invoking the Public Health Act for the public good. We are aware of the fierce backlash that we will receive from the vending public but our actions are in the public interest. From today we will carry out publicity campaigns to educate the public on the action we are taking and encourage the vending public to go to designated sites.”
Meanwhile, vendors have resisted the ban saying it is threatening their livelihood.
Ronald Mureverwi from the National Vendors Union Zimbabwe told DW the ban was a shocking move that could only have come from an irresponsible government.
“If they were responsible enough and cared for the people, then they should have engaged in a process of finding ways of creating a conducive environment so that they can support the efforts of Zimbabweans who are trying to earn a genuine living,” he said.
“Vending is not criminal in any way,” he stressed.
A total of 2,225 cases of typhoid and 9 deaths from the disease were recorded in 2016 and around three quarters of all cases were from Harare.