Monday, 19 November 2012

Malawi: Radios awash with news about International Street Vendors Day

Blantyre City Asembly Director of Planning receives petition from Mhango, MUFIS

Malawi Union for Informal Sector (MUFIS)  with its membership and partners joined their friends in the world for the first time celebrating International Street Vendors Day in style under the theme of street vendors are workers with the same right to organization, representation and social protection as other workers. They marched a distance of one kilometre to present a petition to Chief Executive Officer of the City Council of Blantyre while songs were sung loud and clear. The petition was presented to the council and after that the council arranged a place in the Mayor's Chamber where they could hear the contents of the petition and it was read by the President as follows:  

Marching through Blantyre City

On the steps of Blantyre City Council

14th November, 2012

The Chief Executive Officer,
Civic Offices
Private Bag 67

Dear Sir,


We refer to the above subject matter. Malawi Union for Informal Sector with its membership and partners all over the world are celebrating the vendors’ day today which markers the 10th anniversary of StreetNet International for the first time. The theme of this year is street vendors are workers with the same right to organization, representation and social protection as other workers. During this celebration we would like to request your good offices to look and address our issues as follows:

         Lack of good markets and a lot of people sell their commodities under harsh conditions such as hot sun, rains and without benches.
         Lack of toilets, storage houses, dust bins, piped water, security and fence.
         Lack of consultation when the market fee is being adjusted upwards.
         Lack of nursery schools at markets where children could be put/in classes and learn while mothers/fathers are selling their commodities.
         Lack of market clinics, where pregnant women, anti natal could be administered and HIV/AIDS patients could get treatment
         Rivers passing through the markets are polluted and sticky for example Mudi passing through Blantyre market, Limbe passing through Limbe market
         Build more markets to accommodate all vendors
         Provide good water, storage, security, dust bins, toilets and wall fence
         Councils must stop confiscating goods from vendors
         Vendors must be consulted on all the issues affecting them through MUFIS
         Provide soft loans for empowerment through the banks, and provide banks at the markets for savings
         Provide social protection policy schemes to vendors / self - employed people
         Provide clinics and nursery schools at the markets.
         Amend the laws and bye laws so that they should match with current Republican constitution, democracy and trade systems.
         Provide accountable security to all markets so that if goods are stolen vendors should be compensated;
         Our members should not be harassed when crossing the borders with their goods.

"We estimated that the whole ceremony would take us 15 to 20 minutes but after hearing the contents of the petition, the council officials were moved and it took two and half hours, responding one by one.  They agreed with our petition and promised that they will invite MUFIS to a meeting where all the items on the petition will be discuss item by item. But immediately they  said that

(1) they will stop confiscating good from vendors,
(2) that vendors will always be consulted through MUFIS structures,
(3) they accepted that the bye laws should be amended,
(4) they will talk to banking institutions to provide loans for economic empowerment and clean the rivers passing through markets.
 Council official thought there could be violence during presentation. MUFIS thanked City Council officials for accepting to receive the petition and asked them to facilitate the meeting urgently. The positive responses by the council were more than expectation of MUFIS membership. The function was covered by a lot of media, especially by many radio broadcasters.In fact, the radios were awash with news about International Street Vendors Day!"

REPORT BY Mwanda Chiwambala

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