By Staff Reporter
Street hawkers in Katima Mulilo have petitioned the president of Namibia, Dr. Hage Geingob to allow street vending business in Namibia.
This was announced in a petition delivered to Zambezi regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu on Monday, during the protest march held by a group of the organised street vendors in Katima Mulilo.
The group spokesperson and Director of Native Small Traders Association (NASTA) Mr. Simasiku Mulijani, expressed dissatisfaction that all business sectors in Namibia have resumed their operations except street vending while they are ready to comply with health measures imposed by COVID -19 regulations.
“It is a disappointing for Namibians doing vending businesses to suffer arrests, evictions from vending spaces and confiscation of their sales, making them poorer than ever and adding to the number of unemployment” read the petition.
He said, he was wondering why Namibia is still having a wide gap and disparities of income inequalities.
“No wonder why this country have a bigger gap of unequal incomes, between the haves and the have not’s, so it’s shameful for leaders to discourage self employment which improves lives and equalises incomes”
Mr.Mulijani requested president Geingob to consider legalising street vending as a formal work like any other profession in the country, and he added that it should not be regarded as a lunatic movement.
“Why are municipalities and town councils failing to see the vending businesses boosting their local economies? …There is no country on earth that has built markets to accommodate every vendor in its jurisdictions, why street vending is found both in developed and developing countries, preventing vending is a crime so we need to manage it and authorise it, and why may it be restricted?”
In his view, informal business is the largest sector in the Namibian economy, though it is being sidelined by applicable laws and institutions not to render efficiently.
“Social Security Commission, Local Authority Act is mishandling it and financial institutions do not have products for it, that’s why poverty is rife in this country even Start-Up Namibia have missed it on its criteria.”
He argued that the country is not underdeveloped because of street vendors, but this is caused by corruption and mismanagement.
“So, chasing vendors around is not a solution but we urge government to relax its laws, and make vendors to resume business with the matter of urgency”
The petition further demanded that “your excellency, the arrests that we have endured was not enough for us, now we are ready for anything and we are going back to our vending spaces, for we cannot let hunger kill us … while we can help ourselves in this pandemic by doing business”
Zambezi Governor Sampofu promised the concerned vendors that he will forward their petition to the State House.
However, about nine (9) street vendors were arrested by the Katima Mulilo Town Council’s Law enforcement Unit and Namibian Police this year, and made their first brief appearance in the Katima Mulilo Magistrates Court on Monday July 20, 2020.
They were all granted a bail of N$700 to each, by magistrate Clara Malilo Mwilima.
The accused hawkers are facing charges of illegal vending, and failing to obey the instructions from the authorised officer.