Harare city councillors have admitted they were to blame for the mushrooming of illegal vending sites in the capital as they were taking long to process their applications due to council’s “red tape”.
Councillors said illegal vendors have invaded all available open spaces in the central business district and warned Harare might soon resemble Nigeria’s most populous city, Lagos.
Councillor Peter Moyo said council should act quickly in allocating vendors proper places and avoid invasions.
“We don’t licence people who follow procedure, but we want people to invade. Those people (vendors) are not foolish, the problem is bureaucracy in council. If we say we won’t give them, they will take the place by force,” Moyo said.
“You think we are running council? We are doing nothing and invasions will continue. This town can be Lagos soon if we are not careful. If we have the powers why not take back Carter House?”
Carter House was recently invaded by suspected Zanu PF youths. Councillor Wurayayi Mangwiro also said most of the vendors were from high density areas such as Kuwadzana where there were no vending facilities.
Other councillors blamed town clerk Tendai Mahachi for being “too soft” on illegal vendors.
“We can’t have a situation where other people pay licenses, while others are allowed to sell anywhere anyhow. This is our point that we will not promote lawlessness,” said Councillor Panganayi Charumbira.
But Mahachi said there was need for a multi-sectoral approach to resolve the issue.
“There is a flea market at Jameson Hotel. That market devalues that hotel. All of us, ZRP included, feel that’s not the appropriate place for that. We need to create some place for these people and the park at Fourth Street, (where) we will erect toilets. We will do the same for the suburbs,” Mahachi said.