BY BRENNA MATENDERE
GWERU City Council has given vendors operating at Kudzanayi long distance bus terminus a seven-day ultimatum to vacate their stalls which are not in the local authority’s database, a development that has raised the anger of hundreds of informal traders.
Through its lawyers Danziger and Partners Legal Practitioners, the council has also threatened to demolish the structures and force the vendors to pay costs of the exercise.
The letters handed to vendors dated August 2 read: “We address you on instructions from our above client. It informed us that you wrongly and unlawfully erected some structures within Kudzanayi bus terminus rank and are operating from there. Our client further informed us this was done without its authority or approval and no payments are being made to council.
“. . . we have accordingly been instructed to demand from you as we hereby do that within seven days of the date of this letter you demolish the alleged structures and vacate the terminus. Should you fail to comply with our demand, we have instructions to issue summons against you seeking an order to demolish your structures through the messenger of court and such costs shall be on your account.”
Gweru Vendors Association chairperson Lovemore Reketayi condemned the move and singled out chamber secretary Vakai Douglas Chikwekwe for instigating the move.
“Our members are telling us that the management at council has Zanu PF stalwarts and is trying to frustrate the MDC councillors by harassing its supporters at the terminus. The so-called illegal structures have been there since 1973, so what is the fuss now. Chikwekwe now acts as if he is the Minister of Local Government himself.
“Last week he tried to enforce that move and we appealed to the Gweru district administrator [Joram Chimedza], who said the vendors should be regularised so that they start paying. We have about 1 000 vendors in the rank and we proposed $3 a day, they can contribute $3 000 daily which is $90 000 a month. That money can improve service delivery and even pay council workers who have salary backlogs, while at the same time making vendors who are unemployed feed their families. But Chikwekwe has refused to take that offer. We are now appealing to higher offices,” Reketayi said.
Chikwekwe refused to comment over the matter.
“I do not comment to the media. Who are you? I do not do that, no, no, no!” he said.
Mayor Josiah Makombe said he would visit the vendors and hear their grievances before sitting with council management to resolve the issues.
“We are a pro-poor council and we are going to find out what issues are there and address them. I have an open door policy and where we might have faced challenges we must find each other and resolve whatever is seeking to separate us,” he said.