Defiant vendors sell their wares in Harare City pavements in the Central Business District yesterday despite Friday deadline compelling them to move to designated sites.
The Harare City Council has engaged the police to help flush out some vendors that have vowed to remain in the city streets and pavements in defiance of last Friday’s Government ultimatum to move to designated vending sites, an official said yesterday.
Harare is the most affected city and as of yesterday, 2 149 vendors had registered with city authorities out of close to 20 000 vendors reportedly operating in the city’s Central Business District. It was business as usual for thousands of vendors who were operating in their usual sites on Saturday and yesterday in defiance of last Friday’s deadline to vacate the streets and pavements. The Government directive also applied to vendors operating in the smaller towns and cities.
Harare City Council principal communications officer Mr Michael Chideme yesterday confirmed the ropping in of law enforcers to ensure that sanity prevailed in the city. “We have since engaged the police and all members of the informal sector should be warned that there is no going back on the relocation. Very soon our enforcement teams would also be deployed to ensure total compliance. “There is an overwhelming response as there is an overflow of vendors registering. They are now being directed to other centres for registration,” Mr Chideme said.Harare City has designated 15 registration centres, among them Harare City Sports Centre, Market Square, OK Cameron, Coventry Road Holding Bay, Charge Office and Tsiga open space in Mbare
Mr Chideme said the exercise was continuing and 500 vendors were registered on Friday, 821 on Saturday and 828 yesterday. National director of the National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe Mr Samuel Wadzai yesterday said their members were still in the streets and were not going to comply with Government directive. “We are not complying and they (vendors) are still in the streets. Like I said last Friday, I think that there are certain processes that should be dealt with before the relocation like the issue of registration should be inclusive.” “The sites that are there so far are not enough to cater for all the vendors we know are in the city. We need more markets to cater for the vendors,” he said. Without elaborating, Mr Wadzai said there were some cash barons who were collecting money from vendors, urging Government to address the situation. When advised that police had been engaged to deal with defiant vendors, Mr Wadzai retreated saying: “I do not think it’s the most appropriate approach. The situation can be dealt with through dialogue.” However, Grassroots Empowerment Fleamarkets and Vendors Trust chairman Mr Alexio Mudzengerere yesterday refused to comment on the issue. “I am not commenting on the issue today, talk to me tomorrow,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from Zimbabwe Home Industries Association president Mr Onismo Gore were fruitless as his mobile phone was not reachable. Last Friday, the deadline by which illegal vendors were expected to leave central business districts of towns and cities to designated selling points expired with no sign that the traders were willing to comply, mainly in Harare. Harare City Council also struggled to register vendors because most of them were reluctant to do so. Reports showed that the matter had been hijacked by political opportunists who were bent of fomenting anarchy by inciting vendors to ignore the Government directive. However, some vendor associations said they were willing to move to the designated selling points while others said Government should offer alternative employment and proper vending facilities. This is despite a collective assurance made by vendor associations to Small to Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni that they would comply. Minister Nyoni met 16 vendor unions who assured her that they would move to the designated points.