Makoni South Member of Parliament Mandi Chimene has asked what the point if being friends with China is if Zimbabwe does not copy the good things that China is doing.
“Probably there is a friendship which is better than what I am thinking of because if you play with someone who is bright, you should also be bright because you have to copy what your friend does which is right,” she said in her contribution to the debate on the harassment of women vendors.
Chimene said several legislators had gone to China and saw how well organised the country, which is the most populous in the world, was. It even had a plan that went up to 2060.
“We are friends with the Chinese and where are we getting it wrong? When we go there, what are we going to see? What kind of friendship is that if you do not copy that which is good?” she asked.
Which had a lower per capita than Zimbabwe 30 years ago is now the world’s second biggest economy in the world and is predicted to eclipse the United States in a few years.
Chimene said although she wanted order in the vending system, she was appalled that police were chasing women, some with babies on their backs.
On one occasion a woman vendor dumped her baby in her car as she fled the police only to come back 20 minutes later to collect her baby and her baskets which she had sneaked into the boot of her car.
Chimene said what was irritating was that some of the wares that were being sold by vendors belonged to chefs who were using these vendors.
*MS. CHIMENE: Thank you Madam Speaker, I have stood up to support others on this very important motion. I can see that as legislators, some of us represent women and are greatly troubled by this motion. I would want to thank the respected Hon. Nyamupinga and Hon. Matibenga for really articulating this issue. We are only supporting and giving some evidence.
Madam Speaker, I would like to narrate a story that happened in town along Chinhoyi Street. I has parked somewhere in town in the evening around 6pm and most people were heading home after work. There was a sudden commotion and people just started running. It reminded me of the first bombings that happened and people started running everywhere. I thought probably there was a bomb, so I opened the door of my car to investigate what was happening. Suddenly a woman got into the car and left her baby on my seat and I was very puzzled. This woman had baskets of tomatoes, apples and vegetables. So, I think the child was beginning to fall from her back and she thought it best to leave her daughter in my custody.
This is not a small issue Madam Speaker. It might look as if we are watching a movie but this has to do with the lives of other people. I was at that place, close to 20 minutes before the woman showed up. Surprisingly, that child did not even cry but was playing. I wondered how this child could be so comfortable in the presence of a stranger and I was not aware that my car’s boot had been opened and baskets were being shoved in. When I asked what was happening, I was told that they were running away from the police and I was wondering how they could be running away in such a manner. I was told that the police would take their goods and would also be taken by the police and be in custody till the early hours of the morning.
So, when the woman came back, I asked if she was aware that her child could be stolen, and she said she had seen the Parliament sticker and knew that her child would be safe. I asked if she thought Parliament cars are always in the hands of Parliamentarians. So, she said she had done it deliberately because she knew I would look after her child and she actually wanted me to take this issue up.
So, I really want to thank the movers of this motion once again. What is really painful is that these people in the streets are not selling food to take to their homes but are assisting those people who are coming from work, who want food to take to their homes. It is very difficult to get home from work because of transport problems. So, when they are coming from work, it is easy for them to buy from the vendors rather than leave work and then go to the designated places in Mbare. So, I am supporting the others who are advocating for designated places in each and every street where people can sell from, even if they are given times to use these places such as around 4pm when people leave their work-places and can easily access these places.
We have been to other countries and you will find these areas in place. They are educated on how to do their business. They are taught how to package their produce but these days, you can see that it is very hygienic and that shows that they are being educated. However, if you want to draw them back on their business by engaging in running battles with them, with children on their backs and carrying baskets, it does not auger well with us.
I did ask what the police do with the baskets that they take and the vendors said, “they will take and eat but God is for us all”. I am sure God also knows that legislators are supposed to protect our people as well. We should also be able to plan for these people so that they sell their wares freely. Just think that someone leaves her house to come and sell wares for $3 a day and that amount is taken away by the police as bribe.
One day one woman was grabbed by the waist and her beads which are worn inside were all over the street when the police grabbed her. This is really dehumanising because these beads are like undergarments and if seen by people, it is dehumanising. This is a serious story Madam Speaker.
I also want to speak on behalf of those outside Harare. On Sunday, as I was coming from home, I passed through Nyazura and spoke to some of the vendors that I know. I asked them why they were not at the market-place and I was told that all their wares had been taken by council police. My constituency is a communal one and there are no towns but just growth points and small service centres, but the council police went that far to take their wares away, thereby depriving them of their grinding mill money.
I asked them why and they said we pay $1 every week but when they took our wares away, they said we were not paying tax. They really wanted to find out where they can pay their tax so that they can fend for their families. They wanted to know how much tax was required so that they could work for their families freely. I was really touched because I was aware of this motion which was on the Order Paper, I was waiting so that I could tell you my experiences.
We represent the people of all classes and ages and this is very painful because if that person loses all her wares, she does not have anywhere to start from. The first person that these people will depend on is the Member of Parliament. As an elected hon. member, you have no rest because they will be asking for start ups. A lot of people lost their wares in Makoni, Mayo, Rukweza, Nyazura Growth Point and Headlands. I am thinking that it is a bad spirit which has permeated these people in high places, who say it should be worse so that it should be good for them alone.
I am appealing to this august House because this motion touches on the ordinary people. No one looks at me to go to the market place to sell tomatoes because by doing so, I will be depriving someone their right to earn a living. We should leave those chores to some of us. Those who are seen in town selling everywhere, it is not their wares but there are big chefs behind those wares.
The big chefs give their wares to ordinary people and place them in strategic points and by so doing, they are depriving those genuine ones looking for money to pay rent and school fees. It is just a bad spirit which has possessed our people. I support those who are shouting that it is corruption. We are saying as an august House, market stalls are limited but those who travelled to China a few weeks ago will bear witness that people in that country are given a place where they can put their wares even in the middle of the streets. For example, it is known that civil servants come from Mukwati Building and a market should be put to cater for those people so that they buy their wares on their way home. Those from Parliament, a market stall is placed strategically along Nelson Mandela where they pass by on their way home.
We went with some hon. members to the exhibition centre in Beijing where they saw China still known as Peking, right through to where it would be like in 2060. They have a plan which goes up to 2060. We are friends with the Chinese and where are we getting it wrong? When we go there, what are we going to see? What kind of friendship is that if you do not copy that which is good? There are so many people in China and yet they are living so well. Everyone has access to food stalls, even though they are many.
We saw what they call wetlands in that country and they look after them very well like hotels. Probably there is a friendship which is better than what I am thinking of because if you play with someone who is bright, you should also be bright because you have to copy what your friend does which is right.
With these few words, I want to say when the women in the streets are taken by the police, their children should not be taken or left stranded until the mother comes back in the wee hours of the morning. As an august House, we are not saying people should sell everywhere but we are saying, they should be put on designated places where they sell and uplift the lives of our people. We should not treat people well when we want them to campaign for us but we should look after them at this moment when it is not election time.