Hwange vendors petition council over high vending fees

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VENDORS in Hwange, Matabeleland province have petitioned the Hwange Rural District Council (HRDC) to reverse a recent unilateral hike in vending licence fees.

The licence fees are now US$114 up from US$36.

The Hwange Vendors and Traders Association (HVTA) called on the local authority to reverse the charges arguing that they were not consulted.

HVTA wrote to the local authority on February 24 pleading for the adjustment to be reconsidered.

HVTA spokesperson Elton Mguni told CITE that the HRDC never consulted before implementing new fees.

“As an association standing for vendors, we saw it fit to engage other stakeholders and together with Greater Hwange Residents Trust we jointly authored a letter of objection to the council registering our concern over the hike in vending licences,” Mguni said.

“We appealed to HRDC to review downwards or revert to the US$36 even though we still feel it’s too high.

“The problem is that as stakeholders we are not engaged or invited to budget meetings.

“It’s like they impose these increases on us, even knowledge of the criteria used to arrive at or justify the rates is unknown.”

said the vendors were still to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic characterised by lockdowns which restricted their activities.

Greater Whange Residents Trust’s Fidekus Chima described the new fees as “illogical” arguing that the HRDC had no mandate to collect revenue in areas under the Hwange Local Board’s jurisdiction.

“Vendors were hard hit by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and the hiking of fees by the rural council defies logic.

“We are also going to challenge the legality of HRDC to collect revenue in wards that fall under Hwange Local Board,” Chima said.

“Most vendors fall under Hwange Local Board’s jurisdiction, but surprisingly, they are forced to pay licence fees to RDC.

“Vendors have never been consulted by RDC and the only time RDC remembers them is when they come with law enforcement officers demanding licence fees.”

When contacted for a comment by CITE, HRDC chief executive officer, Phindile Ncube, said he was yet to see the letter — CITE.