COUNCILLORS in Harare are divided on how to address the problematic issue of vendors in the city amid reports that senior council and Zanu PF officials are illegally leasing out municipal land to vendors.
The divisions emerged during a full council meeting last week where the city fathers failed to agree on the way forward as others felt kicking the vendors out of their means of survival was inhumane and deprived them of their livelihood.
Harare is getting nothing from its properties that are now in the hands of “space barons” who claim ownership of council land and take money from unsuspecting vendors.
The space in question includes the flea market along Chinhoyi Street and Kwame Nkrumah Avenue, and the Cleveland House and Park Street flea market where suspected Zanu PF members have occupied most of the space without council approval.
According to the Combined Harare Residents’ Association (CHRA), the city is not getting anything from the use of the space, an anomaly that needed to be dealt with as a matter of urgency.
“During the meeting, Councillor Moffatt Alison, from Ward 34 in Mufakose, accused Zanu PF youths of perpetrating land invasions in Mufakose where he went on to explain that there were some untouchable tycoons working in cahoots with municipal officials who are using these youths to invade council land for flea markets and car parks,” CHRA said in its report on the meeting.
Other councillors accused the police of invading the car park behind Harare Central Police Station and turning it into a flea market.
“Most council land has been turned into flea markets, car parks and other purposes without council approval and this has been reported to be happening under the auspices of youth militias who have political immunity,” CHRA noted.
Chairman for the council’s housing committee Charles Nyatsuro said recent efforts to reclaim the council property from invaders had hit a brick wall.
Deputy mayor Thomas Muzuva told the meeting that the emergence of vending in the city was caused by the economic meltdown in the country hence the activity must be promoted, but in an orderly manner.
Muzuva was responding to a councillor who had demanded that the flea market at Cleveland House be removed with immediate effect.