Home » Travel » Vendors Can Be Tourist Attraction, Says Mzembi

WHILE street vending has been frowned upon for being an embarrassing sign of the country’s economic catastrophe, maverick tourism minister Walter Mzembi sees the proverbial silver lining in the practice.

The Harare administration is currently agonising over ways of driving the thousands of vendors who have flooded city and town centres across the country due to the collapse of the formal economy which has led to nearly 90% unemployment.

Mzembi, once described as best cabinet minister by President Robert Mugabe, told journalists at the weekend that he had ambitions to turn vending into a tourist attraction.

Although quick to say this would be confined to designated vending zones, Mzembi said he saw an economic potential in vending being “repackaged” into a city tourism spectacle.

“Mpedzanhamo and Mbare Musika were on our radar in terms of where we refer tourists to in the past when they visit our cities,” said the ambitious minister.

“We would like to bring back vending as part of our package but it must be dignified.

“I have instructed ZTA (Zimbabwe Tourism Authority) to get involved immediately with small and medium enterprises and assist in the branding of vending going forward.

“We would like to actually capture it as part of our packaging.”

Mzembi said he supported current efforts by government and local authorities to drive thousands of illegal vendors out of city pavements in a bid to restore order in the CBDs.

Harare has in the past months lost its sunshine city status with vendors plastering every inch of city pavements with clothing and perishables.

Vendor organisations, supported by the country’s main opposition, say the traders are justified in invading the CBD to try and eke out an honest living.

This is after current Zanu PF led government has failed to deliver on its pre-election promises to avail 2 million fresh jobs.

Mzembi, on his part, is seen as an ambitious policy maker who last year said he had plans to bring the 2034 FIFA World Cup tournament to Zimbabwe.

The Masvingo South legislator has also dreamt of strategies aimed at increasing the country’s annual tourism earnings from the current US$1 billion to US$5 billion in a space of six years.

Mzembi is adamant that his ambitions are not ridiculous insisting, with a concerted effort among Zimbabweans, every plan can be fulfilled.

Source : New Zimbabwe