BULAWAYO Vendors Trust activist, Michael Mdladla Ndiweni, has claimed that people agitating for the ban of vendors from various urban areas were misinformed and had stable sources of income.
BY SILAS NKALA/BRENNA MATENDERE
Ndiweni’s remarks came in the wake of forced eviction of vendors from most urban centres following a cholera outbreak in most parts of the country.
“Vendors are not to blame for litter in cities. I will start by saying that if there is a person who is advocating for banning of informal trading, they are doing so because they have alternative sources of income or they have formal jobs, although I can bet they have a relative or friend who is in informal trading,” he said.
Ndiweni said designated sites such as Highlanders market (Masotsha Avenue and Fife Street), have no high human and vehicular traffic which vendors depend on.
In Harare the designated vending sites on the outskirts of the city pose a health threat as they do not have vending stalls and adequate ablution facilities, exposing the vendors and their customers to communicable diseases.
Ndiweni said failure to settle rates impacted negatively on service provision. He also urged residents not to dump garbage on undesignated sites and slammed the practice of open defecation in sanitary lanes.
Local authorities, which are owed over $2 billion by ratepayers, are failing to meet their mandate including garbage collection, provision of potable water and sewer reticulation infrastructure, due to lack of resources.
Ndiweni said government has failed to support local authorities with grants to provide clean water and to refurbish sewer systems, but is shifting blame to unemployed ordinary citizens who are trying to eke out a living on the streets.
“We have failed to educate our children at elementary level to know that littering is wrong and that cleanliness should be our culture. We see grown up men and women in designer suits and make-up eating and throwing banana peels and take-away packs out of moving cars, but you blame vendors,” Ndiweni fumed.
“Let us stop blaming a section of our community and be all responsible and make suggestions on what we can collectively do to keep our cities clean. We are all guilty. Let us play our role in making sure that our city is clean.”
Zimbabwe’s highways are littered with empty bottles, plastic bags and disposable takeaway containers dumped by motorists, a ticking time bomb that is threatening wildlife and livestock.
Meanwhile, Gweru Vendors’ Association chairperson Lovemore Reketayi has slammed the council for allocating the informal traders vending stalls on National Railways of Zimbabwe premises, resulting in the traders being evicted by the parastatal without compensation.
The vendors had been allocated trading bays at the Swift vending site which is along a railway line.
“The affected vendors are the ones who bowed down to the operation to flush them out of the central business district. They went to register at council and were given trading stalls near the NRZ line. They paid the required amounts of money to council in order to regularise their operations, but now they are stranded after NRZ came to evict them, with the city council doing nothing to help them because the land has turned out to be not theirs,” he said.
Reketayi said the vendors are now being forced back into the CBD.
Council spokesperson, Manford Gambiza admitted that the local authority erred, but insisted the stand-off between council and NRZ over the land had been resolved.
“There is no clash between GCC and NRZ. Instead, there is a very cordial relationship between the two entities. NRZ has come and showed us where to put the fence, which we successfully accomplished and our traders’ wares are now safe,” he said.
He said the situation will remain as it is until “council finds another alternative trading place” for the affected vendors.