By UK Correspondent
THE government has been warned that it risks sparking deadly unrest in the country if authorities continue to harass vendors who are trying to survive in an increasingly challenging economic environment characterised by hyper-inflation.
Zimbabweans have been struggling with soaring prices for basic commodities and a collapsing local currency resulting in public workers going on strike to demand US-dollar salaries.
Speaking in Parliament Tuesday, opposition Makoni Central MP David Tekeshe said; “There is a saying that a hungry man is an angry man, and he can do anything in order to put food on the table; hence our country will not be habitable.
“Vending is being regarded as a criminal offence that is punishable more than murderers and robbers yet there are no jobs in the country.
“Since there are no jobs and we are beating, harassing and confiscating their wares, vendors have now resorted to stealing and committing various criminal offences.
“We are all aware of the fact that jobs are scarce and the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare is doing nothing to alleviate the situation.”
He added; “in zoos, we see zoo workers playing with wild animals, and the animals do not hurt them. This is because the animals are well fed. As Government, we should ensure that our citizenry is well fed and allow them to vend until such a time that they secure employment.”
Another opposition legislator also demanded that the minister of finance brings to parliament a Ministerial Statement explaining what difference the US$961 million International Monetary Fund (IMF) facility as made for the country.
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Government, last August, confirmed receiving the equivalent of $961 million in Special Drawing Rights (SDR) from the IMF, part of some $650 billion the global lender was distributing to its members.
In a joint statement, treasury minister Prof Mthuli Ncube and central bank governor John Mangudya said; “The immediate impact of this support from the IMF is to increase the foreign exchange reserves position of the country by US$961 million.
“This will go a long way in buttressing the stability of our domestic currency.”
However, the Zimbabwean dollar has been in free fall since.
Opposition Mpopoma Pelendaba MP Charles Moyo said the finance minister should explain what happened with the IMF funding and why the facility had apparently failed to stabilise the local currency.
“My point of national interest arises on the benefits of SDRs Madam Speaker Ma’am,” he said.
“In 2009, we received around USD400 million, and realised a lot of improvement in our citizens in terms of lifestyles. This year, we received USD961 million, we have not seen any great improvement like what we realised in 2009.
“I therefore request Madam Speaker Ma’am that the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development brings a Ministerial Statement detailing what has been released so far, and the benefits thereof. I thank you.”
Professor Ncube is due to present his mid-term budget review on Thursday which is also expected to be accompanied by a supplementary budget.