Police cash in on flea market

HARARE - Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) are cashing in on their Charge Office Flea Market where tenants pay as much as $10 dollars a day.

A snap survey by the Daily News on Sunday established that the vending site is a major cash cow for the force, albeit with fees that are too high for many desperate to coax an honest living.

For a spot of a wooden table measuring 80 centimetres by one metre, second-hand clothing traders are parting with $9 a day plus a cloaking fee of a $1.

The site has an estimate 600 tables, meaning at full capacity the money spinning venture sees tenants bringing in a stellar total of $6 000 a day adding up to $180 000 per month.

It is a far cry from the Harare City Council vending fees of $1,25 to $3, well, at least according to council spokesperson Michael Chideme.

The responsibility to provide open trading space falls under the municipality according to Harare Vendors By-Laws, 2014, contained in Statutory Instrument 159 of 2014.

The laws empower council to register vendors, set tariffs, police and fine them for failure to uphold the law.

However, it seems the City Fathers’ hands are tied.

Unemployed Mobile Youth Foundation director Peter Jack said the only reason why municipality was not moving in to claim the ZRP Charge Office Flea Market was because the two parties are in an “illegal” marriage of convenience.

“As an organisation, we are saying that place is illegal. Police have no right to collect vending money. After all that money is not going into government coffers it’s going into individuals pockets,” he said.

“If you are to check  history, you will see that council made a prior agreement with the police where they had asked police to help them clean up the city in return for allowing them to have that vending space of which that is contradiction of Harare Vendors By-Laws, 2014.”

Zimbabwe Informal Sector’s Organisation director Promise Mkwananzi said his organisation would do everything they can to come to the defence of vendors.

“These fees are unjust; we are going to challenge that in court. It’s unattainable. A real genuine vendor can’t afford this price,” he said.

Repeated efforts to get a comment from police spokesperson Charity Charamba proved fruitless as her mobile went unanswered.

Vendors interviewed by the Daily News on Sunday said they have no option but to comply even though the fees are steep.

“We have been pleading with the police to reduce rentals but they don’t seem to be moved.”

Another tenant who refused to be named for fear of victimisation said the police have an efficient way of collecting rents that would make Zimbabwe Revenue Authority green with envy.

“We pay at the end of the day. They have a check sheet which they use to see who has paid and who hasn’t paid. It’s efficient because the tables have numbers,” the tenant said.

Asked why they continue to show up at the vending site despite the high prices, an elderly tenant said they had “no other source of income.”

“In these hard times, it’s not possible to register sales everyday but if I don’t come they will take my table and give it to another person. I am forced to come every day even if I am making a loss.”


Comments (1)

The learned reporter has omitted to mentionat a certain senior police cabal has got a lucrative business there as Land Barons. As spokeswoman Charity Charamba recently stated “some of them are doing very well” TIP – Go and see how and where Commissioners Canaan Mugumira, Edmore Veterai and Augustine Chihuri live.

Charles Tarumbwa - 11 October 2015

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