LOCAL waste pickers say it’s high time the Constitution recognised them and accord them full rights to operate without hindrance.
Currently, the Constitution is silent on the role played by waste pickers in cleaning up the environment and recycling waste.
Speaking at a waste pickers’ workshop in Bulawayo yesterday, Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) director Khumbulani Maphosa said: “The global institution as a whole has to recognise the role these guys play in our society. The Zimbabwean government and legislation in particular does not protect them. They are self-employed and help to take care of our environment but who takes care of them? They encounter a lot of challenges like safety and health hazards while picking waste at dumpsites.”
The workshop was attended by officials from the Environment Management Agency, waste pickers, Women’s Bank and the Member of Parliament for Bulawayo Central Nicolla Watson.
“We are now becoming more and more, I want to move into the CBD. I want space to store my bales while I wait for buyers. What I love about it is that I am my own boss and that doesn’t put stress on me. From the little that I get, I am able to put bread on the table for my family,” said Magwegwe resident Johana Mpala.
Thembeni Moyo, another waste picker from Cowdray Park, said family members looked down on her when she started her waste-picking business.
Another resident Johana Nkiwane echoed similar sentiments.
“My family initially objected to the idea because it was embarrassing for them. In a space of one year I have done well for myself. I learnt to save and budget over a long period of time because when you pick waste you have to compile little by little. I now own a residential stand in Lupane which cost me US$2 000. I used to buy chicken cuts but now my family is proud.
“We were always called names such as izbhoda. MIHR taught me that this is my money and independence. It has also taught us our economic rights whereby our husbands don’t take our monies.We have learnt to live peacefully as families.”
Jerald Kapita, loans officer at Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank said they extended empowerment loans to women entrepreneurs regardless of their line of trade.