Chiredzi Town Council is fighting running battles with tuckshop owners, who are refusing to close businesses and demolish their illegal structures, claiming council has been collecting fees from them for over 20 years.
BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
The battles started after council closed a tuckshop in Makondo whose owner Sophie Jochoma, paid $15 as a monthly fee the day the operation to remove vendors from the streets began.
According to Jesirina Gwata, chairperson of Chiredzi Tuckshop Association, council has been collecting money from tuckshops for over 20 years, only to call them illegal this year.
“We are surprised that after all this long council is now saying we should close or demolish our structures. What is more worrying is that after announcing that we should close our shops on Monday, they continued to collect monthly charges of $15.
“How can they collect money from illegal businesses? When we engaged them today (Tuesday), they had the temerity to hike the monthly charges from $15 to $50, before giving us a deadline of March 31, 2018 to demolish our structures. They have double standards because they are Nicodemously collecting revenue from us, but on the other hand victimising us.
“We have since written to the district administrator and copied it to the Zimbabwe Republic Police Chiredzi dispol, the Zimbabwe National Army officer commanding Buffalo Range, President’s Office, Environmental Management Agency, health district superintendent, as well as the war veterans district chairperson, raising our concern about how council is handling our issue.
Contacted for comment, council chairperson, Francis Moyo said the money collected from tuckshop owners was for penalty fees.
“Tuckshop owners are operating illegally, so we would fine them and close the shop, but after a while they would reopen forcing us to continue fining them. Now we have decided to charge them commercial rates, that is why we started to charge them $50 for the service shops, until the end of March. I think by then we would have found a place for them to build their shops,” he said.
Since last Friday, an ill-prepared Chiredzi Town Council was making frantic efforts to get land to relocate vendors, and several other people in the informal sector following a circular from Local Government minister July Moyo to remove illegal vendors from the streets.