Vendors protest move to ban them from Harare CBD

INFORMAL traders want to engage the City of Harare to reverse its tough laws against vending in the capital’s central business district (CBD).

INFORMAL traders want to engage the City of Harare to reverse its tough laws against vending in the capital’s central business district (CBD).

In its recently published by-laws, the local authority said informal traders were not allowed to sell any goods or foodstuffs in the CBD without a valid permit or lease agreement.

The municipality also banned pushcarts commonly referred to as zvingoro used at informal trading places like Magaba, Mupedzanhamo and Mbare Musika bus terminus.

Municipal police and the Zimbabwe Republic Police have since embarked on a crackdown arresting vendors in the city after the announcement of the new by-laws.

Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation executive director Samuel Wadzai said dialogue was the only way forward.

“Currently, we have not had any formal engagement with the city council despite the fact that we have tried to reach out to the authorities informally to organise for a formal engagement,” Wadzai said.

“We work very closely with the informal sector committee at the Harare City Council so we are in the process of engaging them so that we discuss issues formally.”

Wadzai said his organisation was of the view that the by-laws were divorced from economic realities.

“That is why we want to have this meeting so that we can probably knock some sense into the heads of our City Fathers,” he said.

“We need to support workers in the informal economy because that is where the majority is surviving from.

“We cannot support by-laws that criminalise livelihoods.”

He reiterated the need for formal engagement, saying failure is not an option because livelihoods are at stake.

“We understand the City of Harare is being motivated by the need to collect money from traders but we also have rights and a Constitution that protects us as workers and we can always refer to that,” he said.

“We do not want a situation where we have confrontation with council as we have previously managed to solve some of the burning issues through engagement.”

Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy secretary-general Wisbon Malaya reiterated the need for amicable solutions.

“We believe in order in the country and in the city but we do not believe in harsh reactions and actions,” he said.

“We will continue to engage the City of Harare. We will write a communication to the mayor, town clerk and their informal committee to seek a meeting with them and share our position and proposed advice on how to deal with some of the issues.”

He said they recently celebrated a move by the City Fathers in relation to the small to medium enterprises policy.

“Then now comes this new development of short-term transcribed by-laws with which you do not even understand the force behind them,” he said.

 “It is unfortunate that the City Fathers are forgetting that whoever is working in the informal sector today is contributing to the existence of the City of Harare itself.”

A number of Zimbabweans have been forced into vending due to lack of jobs with an International Monetary Fund report stating that the country’s economy is now heavily informalised.

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