Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa has put the heat on vendors as cholera outbreaks threaten the urban centers in Zimbabwe. Vendors, who make a living by selling in the streets are accused of selling unhygienic food to customers.
“There is rampant vending in undesignated places, including selling of meat and fruits on pavements. People buy and eat all these on the streets in unhygienic conditions, putting themselves at risk of cholera and other diarrhoeal or enteric diseases such as typhoid,” said Parirenyatwa in a Ministerial statement on the outbreak of cholera in Chegutu District.
“People should desist from eating foods cooked or prepared in unhygienic conditions. We encourage people to practice good hygiene practices, wash hands before eating food, after visiting the toilet and after changing nappies. Drink only safe water which should have been boiled or treated with treatment chemicals.”
The cholera outbreak threats emerge as 64 cases were reported and four people to have died of the disease in Chegutu.
“Chegutu Municipality has a critical shortage of water due to aging water reticulation infrastructure like most towns in Zimbabwe and this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency,” said the Health Minister.
“When clean water is pumped, it tends to mix with sewer due to constant breakdown of water and sewer reticulation infrastructure.”
“This is not happening in Chegutu alone but in many other cities and towns including Harare,” Parirenyatwa continued.
Vendors, who are being driven out of the streets are threatening to go to the courts after the government gave the informal sector a 48-hour ultimatum to leave the streets or be forced out according to local media.
The Local Government Minister, July Moyo, threatened to engage the army in driving out vendors and pirate taxies out of the streets to restore sanity in towns and cities. Barely 12 hours after the threats, the vendors vowed to stay put and instead gave the government a counter 48-hour ultimatum to create jobs so that all vendors can leave the streets.
“We are baffled by Moyo’s remarks to the effect that vendors must move to designated sites as if the municipalities are able to provide such sites,” Samuel Wadzai a leader of a vendor’s organisation said in the Newsday.
Cholera outbreaks are not new in Zimbabwe as hundreds of people died because of the disease in 2008. Zambia, the northern neighbor of Zimbabwe has been battling the disease since last year.