Of late there are an increasing number of women who vend bringing their children into town. The children are mostly of breastfeeding age and those not yet at school.
Harare News found out that these women bring their children into town for various reasons but mainly because they have no one to take care of the child at home while they are out for the day.
“I have no one to leave my baby with while I am in town because I cannot afford a child-minder. I have no option but to carry my child along everywhere I go,” said Tendai Maseko, a street vendor in central Harare who brings her five-month old baby strapped on her back.
On the other hand, some women said they carry their children in order to fulfill their motherly duties. “Yes I can afford to hire a child-minder but I prefer to take care of my child alone. I cannot trust someone to look after my child,” said Chipo Taderera (33), a vendor at Market Square.
However, others such as Nokutenda Chirenda (44) from Greendale, said the city’s streets are not healthy for children. She believes that mothers should provide a favourable upbringing for their children, which can help in shaping them into better citizens.
“Those mothers are putting money ahead of their children because they are exposing them to diseases due to poor sanitation facilities. What are they teaching those kids to be? Street-kids and mahwindi? Because that is all they will learn,” questioned Chirenda.
Since vending was outlawed in the CBD, vendors are constantly playing hide and seek with law enforcement agents in order to evade arrest and the trade has become riskier each passing day. This is even more problematic if the vendor is accompanied by dependents.
“They are exposing their children to great danger. The other day I witnessed a woman vendor who nearly dropped her baby that was strapped on her back in the middle of traffic while fleeing from council police,” said Stanley Masodza (22) from Glen View 3.
In cases where the mother has been arrested by municipal police, the children are not spared. They are taken along with their mothers to the holding cells until the mother manages to pay the required fine.
Reverend Taylor Nyanhete, the National Director of the Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children (ZNCWC), a member based organisation in Harare, said that every child has a right to motherly love hence the women are acting in the best interests of the child.
“For those women it is very difficult for them as they will have no one to take care of the children at home. If they are of school going age then it becomes a problem but if they are younger than school going age then obviously the mother is just taking care of her child,” said Nyanhete.