Four years after gaining re-election on the back of an audacious promise to provide 2,2 million jobs, President Robert Mugabe is presiding over an imploding economy characterised by serious cash shortages.
The government led by the fractured Zanu PF has no clear plan to rescue the situation and more Zimbabweans are being thrown into the ranks of the unemployed every day.
Instead of sitting on their laurels and waiting for the ruling party to deliver on its promises, which are now looking like a mirage, thousands of Zimbabweans have taken to vending on the streets of the country’s urban centres to feed their families.
The ballooning number of vendors, especially in the capital Harare has seen streets becoming overcrowded and littering has become a serious problem for city fathers.
Mugabe, a fortnight ago ordered the government to remove the vendors from the streets, saying he doesn’t want Harare to be like Nigerian cities, which he probably considers too dirty.
However, Mugabe did not pause to think about the reasons why the city’s pavements are now overcrowded.
It certainly escaped him that he is to blame for the abnormal situation where the young and old have to play hide and seek with law enforcement agents as they try hard to make a living.
Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate is estimated to be hovering around 90%, but the government does not seem bothered by this crisis, which in other countries would cause a revolution.
Mugabe’s order to the authorities to remove the vendors, which resulted in a heavy-handed clampdown by police last week, is not only insensitive but exposes him as an aloof leader.
A year ago a similar attempt was made to clear the capital city of vendors but before the dust settled, the traders were back on the streets in even bigger numbers.
That alone should tell Mugabe and his minions that sending police to clear the streets is not a sustainable way of controlling the informal trade on the streets.
Only serious job creation will help reduce the number of vendors and clear the streets in urban areas across the country.
The economy has to work for people to find alternative jobs because the majority of the vendors are not on the streets out of choice.
Among the army of vendors are university graduates and experienced professionals who cannot find jobs in the shrinking formal economy.
Teargassing them would never address the issues that forced them to be vendors. Mugabe has to come down from his ivory tower and get to grips with the mess he created over his 37-year long rule.