BY LORRAINE MUROMO
THE Harare City Council yesterday blamed informal traders over the demolitions carried out by council and police, accusing them of choosing to operate at undesignated areas.
Council spokesperson Michael Chideme made the claims during a virtual meeting facilitated by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches to address the effects of demolitions on people living with disabilities.
The virtual meeting ran under the theme Demolitions: Their Legality and Their Impact on People with Disabilities (PWDs) Security and Livelihoods.
Since last month, council has been destroying illegal structures mostly used by informal traders.
Affected areas include Mbare, Chitungwiza, Melfort and Glen View, among others.
Chideme said Harare was an organised city with various designated places and it was up to informal traders to respect use of land.
“Harare is a well-planned city with adequate spaces for different sectors, be it beer halls, sporting activities, residential areas,” he said.
“There are people selling in spaces not designated for vending. The City of Harare respects various vending groups and promotes activities of the informal sector, but their thriving has to take place in proper designated places.”
Chideme further blamed informal traders for relying on space barons to access municipal land and undesignated places, a move that resulted in structures being demolished.
“We have certain members inside and outside of informal trading congesting space. In places such as Mupedzanhamo and Mbare, we have warlords (space barons) who are collecting money not due to them,” he said.
“Warlords are standing between the city council and the informal traders and there are people within the informal sector who support these barons. For how long will our informal traders continue to give money to these space barons? We need to convene as a people to say, we have had enough. The two sides are agreeable on the need for space, but there is someone standing in between. Where does the city get money to cater for the informal traders when money is being given to individuals?”
Chideme said there were more than 200 working spaces across the City of Harare and informal traders needed to approach relevant offices for assistance.
“People should sell in their residential areas rather than congesting the central business district. They should sell where potential customers stay and should go to various district offices for identification of these spots if they are not sure,” he added.
“Trading spaces are affordable to informal traders as compared to those who pretend to give them security on municipal land.”
He said council was open to engagement with the informal traders and currently has a platform where it interacts with several informal groupings to forge a way forward.
Follow Lorraine on Twitter @RMuromo