Innocent Ruwende and Virginia Kashiri
Government has given illegal vendors and pirate taxi operators 48 hours to vacate the streets in all towns and cities, or the security forces will move in to remove them, a Cabinet minister has said.
Addressing a Press conference yesterday, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo said his ministry engaged Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga (Retired) to ensure that all security officers took part in the nationwide exercise.
Minister Moyo, who was flanked by acting Harare town clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango and principal director in his ministry (urban local authorities) Ms Erica Jones, warned of the arrest of legislators and councillors who could try undermine the operation to gain political mileage.
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He said a monitoring taskforce had been put in place to ensure sustainability of the operation.
“We are compelled to act before the situation degenerates to even lower levels,” said Minister Moyo. “In view of this untenable situation, let us all declare war on illegal vendors and unregistered public transporters. To the vendors who are operating at undesignated sites, including in front of shops and to unregistered public transporters, you are directed to cease forthwith your activities within the next 48 hours, failure of which you have no one, but yourselves to blame. I have contacted, before this press conference, the Vice President General Chiwenga to inform him about this statement I am issuing and to seek his assistance so that security agencies can work with the municipalities, town councils, so that we can put to rest this menace that is facing us.”
Minister Moyo said Government could not continue to fold its hands when the threats of typhoid and cholera had become a reality.
He said illegal activities in the CBDs had virtually become cover for other criminal activities, hence it was critical for Government to arrest the situation before it exploded.
“Prevention is better than cure,” said Minister Moyo. “The CBD is now home to a litany of unhealthy vending activities such as selling of second hand clothes, unregulated vegetable vending, roasting mealie cobs, and money changers, amongst other activities.
“Such activities are anathema and anachronistic of CBD areas of modern cities, especially capital cities. The menace is further exacerbated by the public transport system which has transformed the CBD into a hazardous jungle.”
Illegal ranks and unregistered public transport such as mushika-shika, said Minister Moyo, had become rampant, posing great danger to both motorists and pedestrians.
He said those who wanted vending sites should approach their local authorities and be properly allocated space at designated sites. Minister Moyo said there was no other issuing authority of vending space besides councils.
“To those who have been thriving on selling vending space, you are directed to stop forthwith,” he said. “Such culprits should be reported to the law enforcement agents who must act, and act now. We are also calling upon members of the uniformed forces to come and assist the Local Authorities in bringing sanity in our CBDs. Members of the public are urged to cooperate with all forms of law enforcement agents in an effort to eradicate this vice.”
Minister Moyo said it was no longer business as usual for local authorities, imploring them to enforce by-laws without fear or favour, with the help of police.
Most cities and towns in Zimbabwe have been rendered inaccessible as a result of an influx of illegal vendors and illegal taxi operators.
Efforts by the councils to restore sanity seem to have yielded no solution, hence the intervention by Government and the security forces.
The new dispensation calls for cities to attract investment to uplift the lives of residents, but those with funds shy away once they realise the chaotic situations in such areas.