GWERU City Council has given vendors operating in city markets 48 hours to collect their wares and vacate the sites in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
BY Brenna Matendere
This followed a council resolution to shut down all vending markets.
Part of the minutes where the resolution was made on Tuesday, read: “In light of the recent lockdown and the increasing number of COVID-19 cases countrywide, it is prudent to be proactive and take reasonable steps in order to avert further spread of the coronavirus.
“As an initiative, it is important to note that our densely-populated marketplaces have to be closed for the time being and this will curb the spread of the coronavirus.”
Other local authorities such as Harare and Mutare have also taken advantage of the lockdown to demolish illegal vending stalls.
The council also resolved to “destroy all illegal structures and vending bays after the lapse of the two-day notice” while another resolution gives management authority to “seek assistance of law enforcement agents in the event of any resistance”.
Yesterday, Gweru mayor Josiah Makombe said the position was a result of a directive that was issued by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to demolish vending structures when he toured the city last week to assess compliance with the lockdown measures.
“True that (order from Mnangagwa). There is a directive to demolish, but as Gweru, we don’t want to demolish. We engaged our vendors to remove their goods so that we can start the renovations.”
Makombe said the affected vendors would be relocated to Mtapa Shopping Centre.
However, Gweru Vendors’ Association chairperson Lovemore Reketayi said they would engage the local authority to reconsider its decision.
“People have no formal jobs,” Reketayi said.
“They actually survive from hand-to-mouth from doing vending. So closing all vending markets even for a day after the lockdown will affect them badly.”
He added: “It is likely to take time, which is long for the said relocations to be done because they have to first develop the new area, so we are going to plead with council to shelve their plans.”
Gweru Urban MP Brian Dube (MDC Alliance) said: “I am not really aware of that. Nobody has ever told me. Let me follow up on the issue. But if what you are saying is true, it will be very unfair.
“Due notice of seven days and human ways of dealing with people are the legitimate ways of handling issues. There may be a good cause, like trying to prevent the spread of the disease due to congestion and litter, but it must be done properly.”