Unemployment forces Zambians to street-selling

Like many university graduates in this landlocked, southern African nation, Mulozhi was forced to eke out a living on the street after failing to land a job befitting her educational background.

Unemployment forces Zambians to street-selling

Thirty-nine-year old Mulozhi, who holds a degree in public administration, sells second-hand clothing that she orders from Chinese factories in Lusaka.

Like many university graduates in this landlocked, southern African nation, Mulozhi was forced to eke out a living on the street after failing to land a job befitting her educational background.

"Unless a person has connections, it is difficult to get jobs in Zambia," Mulozhi – who graduated from Mulungushi University in Kabwe, the capital of Zambia's Central Province – told Anadolu Agency.

She believes jobs are advertised merely as a formality, when they have in fact already been promised to others with connections to management.

"Even jobs in the public service are sometimes administered in this manner," Mulozhi lamented.

"That's why many of us are on the streets selling goods, which does not involve corruption."

Bill Mulenga, a graduate of the University of Zambia's School of Social Sciences, says he cannot secure a job on account of his lack of experience.

"Each time I was called for an interview, I was asked to recount the number of years I had worked in the field," he told AA. "Since most employers are looking for experienced workers, I'm always left out."

For the past two years, Mulenga has been hawking wares on the streets of Lusaka, where he earns close to 5,000 kwacha (roughly $14.5) each month selling shoes and second-hand clothing.

John Phiri, 27, says he initially joined his friends on the streets in hopes of raising enough money to go back to school, with a view to upgrading the Purchasing and Supply diploma he obtained from the National Institute for Public Administration.

"But my hopes of going back to school waned after my parents died, leaving me two brothers and a sister to look after," he told AA.

"I spend all the money I make to sponsor my siblings' schooling and rent an apartment for them," Phiri said.

"On top of that, I'm a family man with two kids," he added. "My chances of going back to school have completely gone."

Phiri nevertheless continues to hope that he won't spend the rest of his life hawking pirated audio cassettes and DVDs on the street.

"My only prayer is that one day I'll be employed with my current Purchasing and Supply diploma," he said hopefully.

Designated areas

Jane Maleya has worked as a street vendor for the past seven years.

"Some people think we like to be on the street," she told AA. "But this is far from the truth."

"We don't like being hunted by local authorities for breaking the law, which forbids us to sell on the streets," Maleya said.

Minister of Local Government and Housing Emerine Kabanshi recognizes that young people in Zambia face numerous hardships.

"If we look at the total development of Zambia, we recognize that many people are unemployed," the minister told AA in an interview. "And for them to survive, they involve themselves in small businesses."

She went on to note that, while street vending remained illegal in Zambia, the government was tolerating the phenomenon on humanitarian grounds.

"Whenever the government deals with street vendors, there's a need to be practical, because there are a lot of problems that have led to the increase in street vending," Kabanshi conceded.

"At times, vendors are removed in joint exercises between the council and state police," she said. "But they usually return in greater numbers."

The minister believes the solution to the problem is designating areas especially for street vendors.

"But it would be unfair to take them to where vending is not commercially viable."

AA

Last Mod: 25 Eylül 2013, 17:50
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