ZANU PF and MDC-T councillors in Harare have reportedly turned Town House into a battlefield where the two parties were divided over the fate of vendors operating in the central business district (CBD).
BY MOSES MATENGA
The tug-of-war started when the MDC-T ordered its councillors, who dominate Harare City Council, to resist any attempts by the Zanu PF government to forcibly evict vendors from the CBD.
However, management at Town House was said to be taking instructions from Zanu PF which was pushing for the vendors to relocate to the designated vending sites outside the CBD.
The vendors’ issue was set to dominate tonight’s full council meeting as it emerged that the MDC-T councillors were spoiling for a fight with the city’s management over the matter.
Council’s informal sector committee chairperson Wilton Janjazi (MDC-T) confirmed his committee would table the matter for discussion at the meeting, but refused to shed light on the alleged fights between management and councillors.
“We will discuss at the full council meeting where the issue will be tabled, so I don’t want to pre-empt what will be discussed,” Janjazi said.
Other MDC-T councillors who spoke on condition of anonymity said they were under strict instructions to work on the side of vendors and not allow the government to use council management to harass the vendors.
“The party is pro-vendors and we are working with a management that is instructed to remove them from the street and that is now more of a political war than just a vendors’ issue,” one councillor said.
National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) leader Samuel Wadzai said it was suspicious that Zanu PF space barons who had been campaigning for the removal of vendors from the city centre were now leading the registration process.
Some of the vendors’ organisations that have been pushing for the removal of vendors from the city centre included the Zanu PF-aligned Queen of Grace ZimAsset Trust, Grassroots Empowerment and Flea Market and Vending Association. Other groups have been accused of having links with the opposition.
Navuz said over 100 000 vendors were operating in the city although council has put the figure at 20 000 people.
Council spokesperson Michael Chideme said by Sunday only 2 149 vendors had been registered.
“Everyone with vendor’s card should go on site and those who fail to do so will be forced to withdraw their cards and give them to others,” he said.
“We are moving in to put tents at all open markets for shelter. Copacabana and Market Square are now full and also Chinhoyi and Samora Machel street markets. We are directing all the people coming to markets with space, but once we are done we will go to suburbs for the same exercise to issue vendors with their cards.”
Investigations by NewsDay showed that council, if it managed to register all the vendors in Harare for $3,25 each, it would likely pocket $325 000.
Council would be guaranteed of a steady daily revenue of $125 000 from the $1,25 to be paid by each vendor.