Vendors have accused the Harare City Council of using militant tactics to force informal traders to relocate to the newly-constructed Mbudzi People’s Market stalls along the Harare-Masvingo Highway.
BY SILENCE CHRAUMBIRA
According to council, vendors should move to the new market as part of efforts to contain the typhoid outbreak that threatens to get out of hand.
The move was also aimed at restoring order in the area largely used by long distance travellers to places such as Masvingo, Chivhu, Chiredzi and South Africa.
The development also came after council announced plans to forcibly remove vendors from Mbare and surrounding areas to Tsiga open grounds, but later abandoned the move opting for a systematic process.
Council was currently registering vendors at Tsiga grounds charging $1,25 per day.
Council spokesperson Michael Chideme on Tuesday said the process was going on smoothly after engagement with different stakeholders on the ground. He said the process would get rid of the problems created by middlemen who were fleecing vendors.
Chideme said construction of a people’s market at Tsiga was set to start later in the year to provide ablution facilities for the vendors.
Vendors’ Initiative for Sustainable Economic Transformation (Viset) boss Samuel Wadzai, however, said the move to force vendors to move to Mbudzi roundabout without consultations was ill-timed and misinformed.
“Viset accepts that Mbudzi People’s Market has wonderful facilities, including ablution facilities, and that it is generally strategically located for vendors. We are opposed to the arbitrary approach by the city fathers. We need to be consulted genuinely and extensively before decisions are made,” Wadzai said last week.
“We are not on the streets to enrich the pockets of the already rich bureaucrats at Town House, but to look after our families in the face of this unending economic morass. We demand to be consulted, we are adults, we cannot have people making decisions for us every day as if we are mentally challenged.”
Wadzai added: “Furthermore, Mbudzi People’s Market cannot accommodate all vendors operating at Mbudzi roundabout. To just demand the relocation of every vendor at Mbudzi without first having done a feasibility study of the same can only be viewed as the height of planning notoriety on the part of the City of Harare.”
Zimbabwe Informal Sectors’ Organisation leader Promise Mkwananzi said the same reasoning that made council stop the planned removal of vendors from Mbare should apply at Mbudzi.
“We are saying council must stop all forcible eviction of vendors across the city until alternative and sustainable vending complexes are established. You will remember last year we fought running battles with the police insisting that there must be alternatives before evictions,” he said.
“We can help them to decongest the city in an amicable and sustainable way by working with vendors themselves in identifying viable vending sites and constructing vending complexes for them if council allocates us the land to do so.”