A year after being allocated selling points, vendors are back on the pavements of Harare’s central business district, raising questions about the strategies being employed.
In 2015, the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Ministry ordered a cleanup of major cities and towns following proliferation of illegal vending. Harare City Council subsequently registered vendors and allocated them market places on the CBD’s fringes, notable sites being Fourth Street Bus Terminus, the open space near City Sports Centre and the Cripps/Seke roads intersection.
However, all those sites have hardly been used as vendors want to operate “where the people are”. One can hardly move freely along First Street, Jason Moyo Avenue, Cameron Street and the open space next to Cleveland House as wares and foodstuffs fill pavements. Most vendors operate in front of established businesses and shopowners have complained about this. Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Mr Denford Mutashu implored Town House to enforce its bylaws.
“Local authorities must deal with vendors effectively and ensure a proper enforcement structure is in place. Illegal vending affects those who operate legally, so action should be taken swiftly,” said Mr Mutashu. “As a country, we can’t promote illegality. Illegal vending doesn’t add value to retailers, but is actually a threat.
City of Harare acting corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme said council was on top of the situation. “We have always been on the ground, making sure Harare doesn’t go back to that era when vending had literally become a freeforall on the streets. “We are intensifying our policing to ensure we don’t lose ground. Our aim is to have all traders doing business at designated sites, to free up pavements for human movement and allow businesses to operate without hindrance.” Mr Richard Njenge, a shoe vendor, called for a better deal.
It’s impossible for us to move out of the CBD as we are yet to be allocated proper vending sites where customers can come freely,” said Mr Njenge. “The vending sites that Harare City Council allocated us are far away from the customers, and the space isn’t enough for all of us.” Combined Harare Residents’ Association chair Mr Simbarashe Moyo weighed in: “The idea of council embarking on a catandmouse game with vendors just won’t work. That is not the solution as this is a livelihood issue we are talking about here. Therefore, there is need to identify strategic vending sites, places where business thrives.” Sunday Mail