SOUTHERN NEWS | Byo mayor unhappy with road closure

BULAWAYO - Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni has raised concern over the way the law enforcers conducted themselves in closing a road in the CBD which was a perceived hub of illegal money changers, popularly known here as Osiphatheleni.

The road was recently closed after Chief Justice (CJ) Luke Malaba raised concern over the operation of illegal foreign currency dealers who have been operating close to the Bulawayo Magistrates’ Courts housed at Tredgold Building.

The illegal money changers always play cat and mouse games with the police and have refused to vacate the environs of the courts, popularly known as the World Bank, due to the availability of cash in different currencies.

Malaba made the remarks during the commissioning of three courtrooms at the Bulawayo High Court, a day after he had toured the magistrates’ courts upon which he came face-to-face with the commotion outside the biggest magistrates’ courts in the region.

“It’s not a healthy situation to have illegal activities taking place just outside the fountain of justice,” the chief justice said in his address.

Soon after his statement, police immediately reacted by blocking out of access both ends of the road between Fort Street and Herbert Chitepo Street which is along Leopold Takawira Avenue.

Since the chief justice’s declaration early this month the road has been blocked 24 hours a day by the police.

“We are aware of the directive given to security agents to clear the Tredgold area of Osiphatheleni and commuter omnibuses,” Mguni told Southern News.

“We, however, notice that police have barricaded parts of the roads around Tredgold to flush out money changers.”

The mayor distanced the local authority from such a move.

“As a city, we have not closed any section of the road. If ever we are to close roads, the town clerk has to advertise in the local press to warn motorists to exercise caution when approaching those stretches.

“So, if national police have blocked the sections of roads around Tredgold, they did so in terms of their own operational directives. As a city, we cannot close any roads within the CBD because we don’t want to congest the city at a time when traffic volumes are increasing ahead of the festive seasons,” Mguni said.

Police have code-named the operation “Flush out illegal foreign currency dealers.”

However, the youthful mayor said any blocking of roads in the city centre should be looked at holistically so as not to compromise public safety and free flow of traffic.

“You must note that the blocking of roads is a planning issue. Bulawayo council is a planning authority, so we can’t just block roads without planning,” he said.

To that effect, Mguni said instead of blocking the road, the “Judicial Service Commission should now look at an option to relocate the courts to a favourable location just out of the heart of the city.”

He added: “Tredgold can then house other government departments which don’t necessarily get affected by the activities outside.”

Turning to the issue of illegal money changers, Mguni who confirmed receiving a directive from the chief justice but said it was a matter that is outside the local authority’s jurisdiction.

“The issue of osiphatheleni is an issue that should involve monetary authorities and national police. As a local authority, we do not have arresting powers which our counterparts in the region and Europe have through their municipal police and municipal courts to enforce their by-laws,” the mayor said.

Police provincial spokesperson chief inspector Precious Simango said consultations have been made with the city fathers.

“Well, following the address by the CJ, as police we then reacted,” Simango told Southern News.

“After that we had a consultative meeting with the city council officials, maybe the mayor was not informed on some of those things. At the meeting, we came up with a number of strategies on how to solve the crisis at the area.

“There were resolutions made from that meeting and some of the strategies are still work in progress,” Simango said.

“However, we are going to open the space anytime and we start implementing some of the strategies.”

Southern News could, however, not get hold of Judiciary Services Commission acting secretary Walter Chikwanha.

The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA), said in the spirit of devolution of power and in line with the principle of subsidiarity should have the autonomy to make decisions on whether or not to close certain roads.

“As such, we view it as unpalatable that such a decision can be made by the central government which is often far divorced from the reality of citizens,” BPRA spokesperson Zibusiso Dube said.

“This is not to say the decision to block the road was wrong or right, but there is need for clarity on the mandate of local authorities versus central government especially as we move towards devolution,” he said.

Dube added: “Also, if it’s true that the area was blocked so as to deal with Osiphatheleni, then this is a case of addressing symptoms instead of the root of the problem. Osiphatheleni will simply relocate to other places, which will face the same challenges that the courts were facing.”

Vendors, traders lash out at council’s archaic by-laws

BULAWAYO - Bulawayo vendors and informal traders here have taken aim at Bulawayo city fathers for simply trying to put cosmetic amendments to the existing archaic by-laws.

The Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) has for the past three years been advocating for the modernisation of the council by-laws which they said were enacted in 1976, hence do not sufficiently apply more than four decades later.

As part of their advocacy in which they exposed the primitive by-laws, the vendors and informal traders through BVTA in conjunction with the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in April this year launched a research titled “Bulawayo Informal Sector Policy Research” project.

Perhaps buckling under pressure, the city fathers last month flighted a notice titled “Notice of proposed amendment to Bulawayo (hawkers and street vendors) By-law 1976”.

“Bulawayo City Council hereafter referred to as council proposed to repeal Bulawayo hawkers and street vendors by-laws and replace them with Bulawayo City council (Hawkers, vendors, flea markets, food carts and stall/table holders) by- laws 2018,” reads a notice signed by Town Clerk Christopher Dube.

The notice also indicated that copies of the proposed by-law will be open for inspection at council offices and at all council district offices during working hours between 8am to 1645 hours from September to October 2018.

“Any objections thereto may be lodged with the town clerk whose offices are located at City Hall, corner Fife Street and L Takawira, Bulawayo on or before November 2018,” he said.

However, the vendors and informal traders, who have since managed to engage the city fathers over the matter, have expressed reservations on the new development.

“We engaged them, we had a meeting with them and shared the draft. They appeared to support it. In terms of drafting, it’s done by council technocrats who appeared to be putting lipstick on a pig,” Ndiweni said.

Ndiweni said they have since completed a document containing by-law amendment proposals which they seek to submit to the city fathers.

“We have thus engaged BCC, government, informal sector and decided to propose an Informal Sector Model By-Law that is anchored on a rights-based approach,” Ndiweni said.

“We are submitting the proposal next week, reason being that BCC put a public notice that they are amending this by-law on August 31 this year, and deadline for objections is November 4, so we are using this opportunity besides objecting to their amendments but also to propose a law.

“Their proposed amendments merely change titles or headings not addressing compelling questions of the informal economy,” he said.

Ndiweni said the local authority’s outdated by-laws have been overtaken by events considering that there is an expanded Bill of Rights that guarantees Economic Rights particularly section 24.

“These laws also were put in place during the colonial period where the white minority government dehumanised blacks and prohibited them from operating on even city pavements, thus the 2013 Constitution brings a new paradigm, they deal with such archaic and oppressive pieces of legislation,” Ndiweni said.

The vendors and informal traders’ director also revealed that research has shown that 59 percent of informal traders were not aware of the by-laws governing them.

He added: “We have carried a research working with NUST to understand Institutional Complex governing the informal sector and we discovered these inconsistencies with
the Constitution of Zimbabwe, also that there are no meaningful efforts to educate informal traders about these laws, 59 percent of the informal traders in Bulawayo are not aware of these laws.”

Ndiweni also said the research has pointed out that about 13 percent of the informal traders are in the sector because they are driven by passion for entrepreneurship and hence laws must be reformed to enable them to conduct their business with minimum hindrances.

He further noted that these primitive laws have been increasing rights violations in the sector, with a point in case being in 2016, where 17 percent of rights violations were recorded in the informal sector.


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