EFFORTS to bring sanity at Harare’s Mupedzanhamo flea market were dented yesterday after police were involved in running battles with illegal vendors returning to the area.
Police had to throw teargas canisters to disperse vendors, days after clashes erupted between Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) and Zanu PF-led space barons fighting to control vending space in the area.
When NewsDay visited Mupedzanhamo in Mbare yesterday, the place was chocking with teargas and police were engaged in running battles with vendors.
The issue of vending space has become a political hot-potato with the two parties fighting over control of city council flea markets.
Last week, Glen View Area 8 Home Industry was gutted by fire for the umpteenth time, resulting in property worth thousands of United States dollars being destroyed.
Addressing the media yesterday, Women’s Affairs, Small and Medium Enterprises Development minister Sithembiso Nyoni said initiatives were being undertaken to eliminate space barons and develop the areas under contestation.
“A recent assessment of Mupedzanhamo market showed that there is need to renovate and refurbish the facilities before reoccupation. There is need to clean the market by removing heaps of rubbish. There is also need to construct additional toilets to match 1 500 traders,” Nyoni said, promising to eliminate space barons.
“In addition to Mupedzanhamo and Glen View furniture complex, Chishawasha Grounds and Coca-Cola Corner have also been earmarked for rapid development to address the workspace challenges in the greater Harare area.
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She said government had partnered pension funds and the private sector to introduce various initiatives for vendors.
Meanwhile, Harare mayor Jacob Mafume told NewsDay that a register of vendors will be compiled as the city moves to formalise the markets.
He said the only way to protect the vendors from space barons was to formalise both the Mupedzanhamo and Glen View markets.
“We are assuring informal traders at Mupedzanhamo that we are going to ring fence their revenue and build proper structures for them and that is the only way we are going to protect them from space barons. We will ensure vendors are registered with council and that those registered get an official receipt from council,” Mafume said.
He said those causing mayhem were making a lot of money, while perpetrating violence as they fought to control the spaces.
Seventeen people have since appeared in court to answer to a charge of public violence following the disturbances that rocked Mupedzanhamo last Friday, resulting in the death of a Zanu PF activist early this week.