Vendors appeal for Friday deadline extension

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Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo

VENDORS operating at undesignated sites in the country’s central business districts have appealed for an extension of their June 26 deadline claiming the new sites identified by the local authorities had inadequate infrastructure.

BY OBEY MANAYITI/MTHANDAZO NYONI

Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo had given the vendors until Friday to vacate the streets and move to established vending sites.

Initially, government had ordered the vendors to relocate to designated sites by June 1 before moving the deadline to June 26.

However, the National Vendors’ Union Zimbabwe (Navuz) last Friday wrote to Chombo seeking a further extension of the deadline.

Part of the letter read: “As the vendors of Zimbabwe, united under the umbrella banner of Navuz, we accept in our collective consciousness that organisation and regularisation of the vending enterprise is paramount, but should not be treated like an event, but as a process, taking into consideration all due procedures which will not result in loss of income for hundreds of vendors who have found occupational refuge in the vending sector.”

The vendors also demanded the removal of self-styled space barons who were allegedly extorting bribes for the available vending sites.

Among other demands, Navuz called for establishment of an inclusive, non-partisan vendor registration exercise and identification of alternative profitable vending sites enough for all vendors, including those with special disabilities.

“These designated vending sites must charge affordable rates to all vendors and they must have all the necessary sanitary facilities. Removal of inhibitions including space barons as well as removal of all forms of corruption, including extortion by enforcing agencies, e.g, municipal police,” the union said.

The letter was copied to Small to Medium Enterprises Development minister Sithembiso Nyoni, Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni and town clerk Tendai Mahachi.

Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo has, however, urged city vendors to apply for vending licences ahead of the June 26 deadline.

Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting with vendors yesterday, Moyo said the council was working tirelessly to make sure that the issue of informal trading was addressed fairly and amicably.

“This meeting is a response to the government’s ultimatum for June 26 that all illegal vendors should be moved to designated areas. We want to know how best we could tackle the issue. We know that the situation on the ground is bad because industries have been turned into churches and workers into vendors to earn a living. Therefore, we as a council, support your rights to make a living for your families,” Moyo said amid applause from vendors.

However, the opposition MDC-T and some civil society groups were lobbying vendors’ unions to resist the relocation exercise, blaming government for fuelling the rapid growth of the informal sector by failing to create jobs.