Residents in the capital are facing a health hazard as fresh meat is being openly sold on the streets, putting the lives of thousands at risk by eating contaminated food.
A snap survey by Harare News revealed that meat – including fish and offal – is being sold on the streets of Harare in blatant violation not only of the Public Health Act but Harare municipal by-laws.
The vendors interviewed admitted knowing they were violating the by-laws but were forced into doing so to fend for their families.
“We have to do this because we have families to take care of. If we do not do this our families will suffer so we will continue selling the meat. Right now, I am sending my children to school through this business. Why would it be a problem when we sell here but people in the rural areas can sell slaughtered beasts from huts? In any case where are the jobs?” asked one woman who sells at the corner of Nelson Mandela Avenue and Chinhoyi Street.
She said she buys fish from Norton and meat from farms around the capital for resale. The meat is stored in open dishes with fly-whisks used to chase away flies.
Vending attracts fines of between $5 to $20 as well as confiscation of the wares.
Harare News caught up with another woman, this time a buyer, who identified herself as Mai Tino. She was buying what was claimed to be beef and said she was buying the meat from the streets as that was affordable for her.
“That is what we can afford. Many butcheries charge $6 per kilogram and that is a lot for someone with a large family like me,” she explained.
Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr Henry Madzorera professed ignorance of meat being sold in open markets but placed the ball in the courts of local governments.
“I am not aware that fresh meat is being sold on the streets but you can contact local governments as they are the custodians of by-laws. However, what I know is we have laws that regulate the selling of food,” said the Minister.
City of Harare spokesperson Leslie Gwindi said the vendors were a nightmare for the council as they have become difficult to control.
“We have a challenge in controlling the vendors in the capital, including meat vendors, and it is common knowledge that we do not want them in the city as it is unhealthy and unhygienic. We however have municipal police who are fighting hard to put everything in order,” said Gwindi.