Vendors want city fathers to embrace vending

HARARE - Vendors have blasted municipalities for abusing trading fees collected daily or monthly from them.

They said no proper structures have been erected at the so-called designated sites meant to accommodate them.

This comes after vendor representative unions vowed that informal traders would defy a decree to leave street pavements across Zimbabwe’s towns and cities until municipalities build alternative vending sites, defying an edict to forcibly remove them with the military’s help and setting up deadly potential clashes.

Local Government minister July Moyo issued the directive last Friday for vendors, who have mushroomed across Zimbabwe’s urban centres and are estimated to be around 6 million, to leave the streets for designated sites.

The minister claims he spoke to Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, a retired general who engineered the ouster of former President Robert Mugabe, “to seek his assistance so that security agencies can work with the municipalities.”

“You are directed to cease forthwith your activities within the next 48 hours, failure of which you have no one but yourselves to blame,” Moyo told a news conference.

In most towns and cities the designated sites do not have sheds to trade from. Most of them are open spaces with nothing but gravel. And there are no toilets at the designated sites, thereby posing a health hazard to customers.

Chitungwiza and Manyame Residents Association spokesperson Marvellous Kumalo said Zimbabwe’s local authorities have failed to appreciate the dynamics of Zimbabwe’s economy.

“Instead of viewing informal traders as a challenge, they must appreciate them as a key stakeholder and create conditions in terms of by-laws, infrastructure and incentives that can lead to a coordinated way of co-existing with vendors,” he said.

Residents Forum coordinator Denford Ngadziore said the designated sites that Harare City Council wants to put informal traders have not yet been constructed.
He added that the sites are nothing but dusty waste lands.

“Harare council must first justify where they put the money they have been collecting from vendors who have been paying them trading levies all these years.
“They talked of ring fencing the money to promote the informal sector but we do not see any difference from when the idea was mooted. This is exactly why vendors will not leave the streets,” Ngadziore said.

Gweru Residents Forum chairperson Charles Mazorodze said the influx of vendors in the city is a livelihood issue.

“The vending space which was allocated to vendors by the Gweru City Council after the railway line towards Vehicle Inspection Department leaves a lot to be desired,” he said. “There are no proper water and sanitation facilities, let alone vending stalls.

Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance spokesperson Godfrey Mtimba said vendors have nowhere to go to eke out a living.

“Residents have the right to sell their wares, therefore, we demand that the council provide residents with designated selling points that are close to their market and properly serviced with shelters and ablution facilities that work,” he said.


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