Bulawayo City Council has admitted failure to address illegal vending, especially in the central business district, and resolved to make do with the crisis until the local authority finds a lasting solution to the high unemployment rate in the city.
Addressing a full council meeting on Wednesday, mayor Thaba Moyo urged council to do some introspection on the root cause of the violation before chasing away vendors from the streets.
“We cannot spend a lot of time chasing people around. It is an embarrassing situation that would even cost some of us the election next time around. We should address that problem. We should find a solution to the problem of unemployment which has led to (illegal) vending. These are serious policy issues we have to address,” he said.
Moyo said there was need for council to complement people’s initiatives and take care of them rather than chase them away.
Contributing to the same debate, deputy mayor Amen Mpofu said: “We must understand that we are in a situation where the country destroyed its industry to a level where it became a zero industry. As long as we do not have a bigger, better place and plans for them, let’s leave them to operate. It does not augur well to chase them if they do not have a licence, but let us find them a place and create conducive conditions for acquiring licences,” he said.
However, Ward 17 councillor Ephraim Ncube said if illegal vending and businesses such as running shebeens were tolerated because people were earning a living out of them, they would bring more harm than good to society.
“There is need to persuade vendors to get licences. In my ward, there is a woman who has started a shebeen to sustain her livelihood, but it has brought too much pollution and disorder. If we are to leave her to continue because she is earning a living out of it, it augurs badly for the community,” he said. Ward 21 councillor Reuben Matengu said there was need to reduce licence fees from $50 and make it easier for prospective vendors to acquire them. Local government is always blamed, but the real problem is with national government who destroy the economy yet they are supposed to create conditions for employment,” he said.