Govt warns of imminent arrests
Illegal settlements also targeted
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Illegal vendors in cities and towns have been ordered off the streets within seven days or risk arrest as Government moves in to restore normalcy in urban areas.
The one-week ultimatum ends on Sunday after which law enforcement agents will descend on the streets to smoke out those who resist the order.
Vending has become an eyesore in urban areas.
Harare and other authorities had given up the fight as market stalls mushroomed overnight on every street, including in the First Street Mall in Harare.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo yesterday directed local authorities to deal with illegal settlements sprouting in the capital, saying claims of undue political pressure were more of perception as Zimbabwe was a law-abiding country.
“We have agreed that by next Monday, vendors should be at designated places. This applies to all cities and towns,” said Minister Chombo.
He was addressing mayors, town clerks and senior council officials across the country as well as representatives of vendors’ associations in the capital.
“As the responsible authority in your respective councils, I expect you to restore order in this area (illegal vending) with immediate effect.
“I have written to the Minister of Home Affairs and henceforth you can expect the Zimbabwe Republic Police to co-operate with you in your efforts to confine vending to designated sites,” said Minister Chombo.
“It is also my desire that you will make every effort to create as much space as possible for use by the small and medium enterprise sector so that your residents can make an honest living by operating in a hygienic, dignified and legal manner.”
Minister Chombo, who was flanked by Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs Mirriam Chikukwa, said vendors had seven days to leave the CBD.
Asked why illegal vending had been allowed to flourish, Minister Chombo said this should not have been allowed in the first place.
“But we cannot fold our hands saying because it happened, I will let it happen. We have decided to put a stop to it. We have decided to make sure that those who are superintending over that matter do so. We have reminded them. It is our duty to penalise them if they don’t comply with the reminder,” said Minister Chombo.
He said Harare council should reduce its daily levy of $3 to $1, and that those who make a once-off $25 payment should be allowed to operate for a full month.
Provincial Joint Operations Command member, Brigadier General Anselem Sanyatwe, warned representatives of vendors’ associations to comply with the Government directive.
“Make sure that your people go to designated places. If they don’t, as JOC, we have nothing with vendors, we will deal with you. Hon Minister can we have a deadline when they will have done that? It can be a one week period or two weeks, but my view is that two weeks is too long,” said Brig Gen Sanyatwe.
Harare town clerk, Dr Tendai Mahachi, said the city had unveiled designated sites both within the CBD and in outlying areas.
Turning to the issue of illegal settlements, Minister Chombo said he was disturbed by the dereliction of duty by city fathers as planning authorities.
“There is too much disorder in the development of housing estates within your boundaries and you appear to have adopted the role of spectator,” said Minister Chombo.
He said there were many incomplete housing schemes, where residents were being fleeced of their money.
“I am alive to the constant cry by local authorities that they are receiving undue political pressure in this area of illegal settlement. Let me hasten to say here and now that, more often than not, this pressure is perceived. Zimbabwe has a proud history of orderly and aesthetic planning and we have sufficient legal ammunition to enforce the same,” said Minister Chombo.
“The days of lackadaisical plan implementation are over, and I am demanding councils become more serious in this aspect of their work.”