'Council needs to respect vendors'

HARARE - Residents’ pressure group, the Combined Harare Residents Association (Chra), has called upon councillors to stand by vendors who are indiscriminately harassed by municipal police even though they are the ones who voted them into office.

Speaking at a Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (Viset), Chra chief executive officer Mfundi Mlilo said when councillors are campaigning for political office they usually speak for the masses but once in office they forget where they came from.

“Your political party says that you are social democrats and according to that when faced with a choice you should choose the people over business. Why is it that we do not see those policies and interests when they are in office yet that is what they say when they are soliciting for votes?,” Mlilo said.

He added that the problem is that towards elections, vendors are welcome but after that they suddenly become a problem.

Mlilo said politicians end up chasing away the same people who voted for them which in turn makes vendors more resistant.

He said confiscating wares and assaulting vendors on the streets is not a solution.

“Vending is a bigger issue than council. The mayor should not make vending his problem because it is not. This is an economic issue first before it cascades down to him,” he said.

Harare City Council informal committee chairperson Wilton Janjazi said the city has a problem with the vendors on the streets.

Janjazi accused vendors of operating from undesignated areas and thus causing unnecessary congestion.

“We must learn to co-exist with each other and not have situations where hoards of push-carts cover half of the street and motorists have to look for alternative routes to take. The city is big enough for everyone to move and trade freely,” he said.

However, acting Harare mayor Enock Mupamawonde conceded that for vendors to take up the designated sites, first there has to be appropriate infrastructure on site.

“People have always known that they go to Mbare and Mupedzanhamo because they were built properly with toilets and sheds for trading. If the same thing is done at the sites like Coca-Cola corner and Tsiga, traders will not hesitate to go there and do business,” he said.

Harare boasts of more than 300 000 vendors, however, the majority of them flock the city centre creating congestion since there are no alternative vending sites.

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