Shops boycott paying rates over vendors

HARARE - Harare CBD shop operators are now boycotting paying rates arguing the influx of vendors is dampening their businesses.

Acting town clerk Josephine Ncube told councillors of the informal sector committee that the boycott was in protest over vendors eating into their profits while they also littered their shop fronts.

With unemployment hovering above 80 percent, many Zimbabweans have resorted to vending to fend for a living.

“The mayor and senior council officials undertook a tour of the city and observed that most pedestrian pavements and frontage of shops were occupied by illegal vendors. The vendors had moved away from the designated sites and revenue collection had decreased. The situation has deteriorated so much that shop owners are now boycotting payment of rates as a result,” Ncube said.

She suggested to the councillors that vendors at undesignated selling points must be moved, adding that the local authority’s social development director Edmore Nhekairo should come up with a plan on how to handle the vendors crisis within two weeks.

“The city has to implement its resolutions regarding vending by providing infrastructure and toilets at designated vending sites. The tender for construction of toilets has already been awarded and now council has to approach government for assistance in handling vending in the city,” she said.

Mabvuku councillor Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwi said the situation in the city had gone out of hand, with vendors operating wherever they wanted.

He said the numbers of vendors was growing   and since there were no sites to take them, it would be a challenge for council to control them.

“The shop owners are justified in their boycott because they are saying that if vendors are selling the same bars of soap, washing powder and other goods found inside a shop and not paying any rates then why should they. Vendors sell all those things and go home with the profits while shop owners have to pay licence fees and other to council and other relevant authorities,” Kufahakutizwi said.

The councillor added that the best would be to have ablution facilities at the designated vending sites such as at Coca-cola Corner and Coventry Road.

This comes as a brief tour around Harare revealed that most major retail shop entrances had been taken over by vendors, making it practically impossible for buyers to enter and exit the shops.

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