16 May 2017

Zimbabwe: Stop Dreaming, Harare Mayor to Vendors

Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni has told vendors to be realistic with their requests after the traders proposed 90 days in addition to cash for relocation to designated areas as council moves to restore order in the capital.

Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (Viset) director Samuel Wadzai recently suggested that government should give three months' notice and compensation before moving vendors to new sites.

"We are proposing 90 days' notice for relocation, involvement in the process and compensation for property. It should also be peaceful," Wadzai said giving a run-up of the draft vendors policy launched last Friday.

Manyenyeni, accepting the proposed policy from Wadzai, responded saying requests should take into account other equally important factors such as sanitising the city for the wellbeing of the general public.

"We should ensure the city is clean, trafficable, no encroachment and less noise from guys selling CDs," said the mayor.

"I will look at the draft policy and where you say 90 days' notice I will say it's too long; 90 days as if we are moving a building. What sort of baggage does a vendor have to require 90 days?

He added, "You should not force us to chase you away.

"You should not be found being the reason for littler. You are obstructing pedestrians. Your wares are taking much of the pavements.

"If you want to work, try to work way from the pavement."

Wadzai said the draft policy should provide a basis of a proper and relevant regulatory framework which captures the lived realities of Zimbabweans including the fact that the economy has been informalised.

Manyenyeni agreed saying, "Under normal times, as a mayor, I am not allowed to let even a single vendor trade on the streets.

"... but the current times where there are no jobs and vendors are selling all sorts of things as a parallel economy, I am mandated to ensure there is harmonious co-existence."

Provision of proper infrastructure, rehabilitation of child vendors, social security and financial services for vendors are some of the traders' needs which many councils are failing to provide.

The city fathers have for years carried out endless campaigns to remove vendors who have flooded the streets, citing unhygienic trading conditions, noise pollution and pavements congesting. The vendors always found their way back.

Shop owners are on-record complaining about unfair competition they are subjected to after paying rentals by street vendors who sell the same products from pavements opposite their shops.

However, Harare vendors have been refusing to relocate to alternative vending spaces provided by city fathers citing absence of proper infrastructure and poor business prospects compared with the city centre.

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