poverty now criminalised in Zimbabwe

I have tried to use the journalistic writing approach, the 4Ws and H but I failed to convey and portray the message with clarity and precision as it warrants. The inverted pyramid and the feature, again failed me. Is it a new approach of writing that I am trying to implement, or is it for this script alone? Surely, time we answer everything.

Reading The Sunday Mail’s online version of 19 March 2023, I came across a well written story by Veronica Gwaze titled, “Illegal!… Vending in Town with kids an offence… Day Care Centre set to be established.”

The story speak truth on how children who sell or accompany their parents to their vending stalls are being abused by such acts.

Provisions of the Children’s Act was quoted as well as informed voice of an officer from the Social Welfare Department who added to clarify the psychological abuse the children suffer by accompanying elders to vending sites.

The newspaper reported that the Government of Zimbabwe is working on a Child Justice Bill to buttress the protection of minors in the country. This follows a gap in the Children’s Act which is not watertight and difficult to enforce especially on the provision of arresting parents taking their children to vending sites.

The Government can be applauded for making provisions to protect the rights of the children, but it should be holistic in approach. A child’s wellbeing is directly impacted by the environment at home. If the government employ its resources in earnest to eradicate poverty, then petty issues as of child abuse by being involved in vending will correct itself.

Children surely should not be accompanying parents to work but this can be expected in a country such as ours, where more than 95% of the population is unemployed and depends on informal business like vending for survival.

7,7 million Zimbabweans are struggling with food insecurity including 3,8 million children. 24% of children suffer from stunting due to malnutrition. 72% of Zimbabwean people live in poverty.

The statistics above shows how poverty is a national enigma and there is little or no media visibility about the scourge serve for instances where poor people are the villains or reduced to statistics without a voice.

More than half of Zimbabweans had been reduced to informal traders by the economy with the majority being vendors. Competition in business is rife as everyone is selling something, resultantly the profits are so minimal. Most of the people are surviving on or less than US $1 a day.

With such magnitude of poverty, the vendors can hardly save for the next day. To cut on the expenditure of hiring helpers to look after their children at home since they cannot afford to send them to school, the vendors end up carrying the children to work fully aware of some of the dangers thereof but without an option.

There is increased poverty of the grassroots people while there is accumulation of immense wealth by bureaucrats and the ruling elite. This is caused by corruption.

The elites through and the media have often times cast aspersions on poverty as being caused by the poor people being lazzy and the poor people being poor because they hate to work.

It is of significance to understand the behaviour of the poor so to be informed as to what cause poverty so that corrective measures be taken to eradicate it. There are generally three models that have been posited to explain the behaviour of the poor, that are Choice, Class and Culture.


The supporters of Choice model argue that poverty stems from a rationally consistent and purposive weighing of the benefits and costs of an activity, in this case being poor compared to its alternative which is being rich. This model point out that people consciously choose to behave consistently based on available information regarding a range of alternatives.

People weigh the relative value of each alternative then choose the one with the highest advantage. The aspect of Choice is crucial in its application to poverty and work effort as it is primarily governed by tastes and preferences.

To say that more than 70% of Zimbabweans are poor because of wrong choices they make is purely blatant lie. There are very few jobs and the 2017 (UN) report says that more than 95% are unemployed and this is not choice but the default settings in the country. Zimbabweans are limited in choice of going to one kind of work than the other as there are literally no jobs serve for few mainly in government institutions.


The Class Culture model argues that culture is the primary influence of behaviour. Scholars posits that each economic class has its own culture with its subsequent norms and values that influence behaviour and shape that ability to learn.

It is virtually impossible for a child born in a poverty class to break that circle and vent into another economic class. The poor will remain poor since it is difficult to break the vicious circle of poverty. The Government as an external force should disrupt the circle of poverty which is hereditary by introducing conducive environment and culture for prosperity rather than introducing punitive laws that continue to foster the class culture of poverty.


Definitions of events, problems and situations make up the components of an individual’s self-concept and continually inform his or her behaviour.

As an example, if people continually experience failure or fear of failure in an activity they may cease to be successful.

if a person observes repeated failure in people similar to oneself, then the person suffers reduced effort to achieve a specific goal.

Several times, the central bank of the country has devaluated savings in bank of the citizens through several legislation and many people were rendered poor not because of their making but through making of the Government.

The Expectancy rate of poverty in Zimbabwe is so high chiefly through the distrust of government policies, climatic change and socio-political environment which is generally anti-poor. The general populace had already given up on escaping from poverty through recurrence of situation that perpetuates their poverty.

Before criminalising poverty, it is of paramount importance to understand the background and behaviour of those living poorly. With that in mind, pragmatic measures should be taken that deal with the root cause of the problem.

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