Vendors lose out in Maputo

The 10th edition of the All Africa Games took place in Mozambique in September. Hosting this major multi sports event was announced as an opportunity to assert the nation’s capacity to the world and install a sense of national pride. But did the games turn out to be that moment of joy and celebration for everyone as anticipated? NAI researcher Ilda Lindell, who is studying informal workers and particularly urban vendors, was in Maputo when the event kicked off on 3 September. We asked Ilda Lindell three questions.

A couple of years before of the event, the Mozambican government began its largest sports infrastructure project ever, constructing a national stadium and an athletes’ village of 800 flats in the Maputo suburb of Zimpeto. Prior to the games, what did vendors working in Zimpeto think would happen?
– In one of the unplanned markets close to the stadium known as Drive In, vendors could not wait for the games to start. They were very happy about the new national stadium. They anticipated more customers and felt they were strategically located to benefit from the event. Information from the authorities was however scarce and decisions were taken without any consultation with the vendors. This made it difficult for the vendors to plan and strategize. Hundreds were told that they had to relocate as the area was presumably reserved to build a parking lot for visitors to the stadium. But overall, many vendors were anticipating a development of the area in the long run, that they could benefit from.

What happened to the vendors once the games got underway?
– The area close to the national stadium and along the adjacent national road is an area of intense commercial activity, attracting a large number of vendors. The new location, to which many vendors were forced to move, is removed from the flow of customers and the vendors complained that their sales sharply decreased.

As a result, many of the vendors left their stalls to display their goods by the national road, in the narrow space that was left between the motor traffic and the fence of the still unrealized parking lot. The police increasingly patrolled that space with dogs to keep the vendors away.

Mortal accidents were frequent and in the space of one week a number of vendors were killed on two occasions. And yet, the vendors felt they have little choice.

What will happen next?
– It is unclear if the vendors will be part of the government’s priorities for the area or will be pushed aside. More generally, people were wondering about who will get to live in the flats built for the athletes.


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