Freeman Razemba Senior Reporter
PRESIDENT Mugabe has deplored the vendor menace and lack of order in the Harare central business district (CBD), saying Harare should be the smartest city in the country as the capital. He said vendors operating in and around the capital should be moved to designated points to allow for the free flow of human and vehicular traffic in the CBD.
Addressing members of the ZANU-PF Youth League national assembly from the country’s 10 provinces at the party’s headquarters in Harare on Saturday, the Head of State and Government, who is also ZANU-PF President and First Secretary, said the capital city must be the smartest of all the country’s towns. He said he had already engaged Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo and Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere over the bad state of the capital.
The President said he had been alerted to the alarming state of Harare recently when he was told that vendors had virtually taken over streets such as Julius Nyerere Way and Robert Mugabe Road. He said vendors sold their wares at night to avoid arrest, in the process blocking traffic. The President said he had been told the vendors could also not be arrested due to the forthcoming elections. He then decided to engage the responsible ministers when he was told the roads in the CBD had been rendered impassable.
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“Ndikati aah okay, ndichanotaura na Minister of Local Government, VaKasukuwere. Saka nezuro (Friday) ndaitaura naVaChombo ndichiti ko, tingabvume here kuti migwagwa yedu yovandiyo zvitoro munotengeserwa zvinhu, ko kusanopa vanhu kuti imi munotengesera apa? The President told the minister; “Asi migwagwa must be left free for the cars to run. Hamudi? Hanzi vakati isu tinoda kunotengesa pesepese. Aiwa indiscipline iyo hatiide! Pasi nayo, pasi nayo,” he said.
President Mugabe said people should be allocated sites to operate from to restore order in the city.
He said once council designated selling points, vendors should immediately move there. “We must clear the roads. Ah, hona tsvina dzoga dzoga. Ngatiregerei kudaro town yedu. Harare must be the smartest of all towns because it’s our capital city,” said the President.
HCC acting town clerk Mrs Josephine Ncube told The Herald yesterday that council, with the full support of the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, all law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders in Harare, would soon roll out an operation code-named “Restore Order” to clean the city of illegal street vending.
“This will be done through the re-organisation of the informal sector, long distance bus operations and commuter omnibuses as part of efforts to lay the foundation for sustainable vending and commuter omnibus operations in our beautiful Harare,” she said.
Mrs Ncube said council recognised the important role played by the informal sector in the national economy, especially as the country was still facing serious economic challenges.
“We accept that the informal sector is critical in income generation but there is need to balance that with order, compliance with by-laws, and respecting formal businesses that contribute to the development of the country through payment of taxes. The city has previously registered over 30 000 vendors. Some of them have since abandoned their sites. Therefore, all registered vendors who have electronic cards are directed to return to the allocated sites. Not all vendors can be accommodated in the central business district, others will be accommodated in the districts,” said Mrs Ncube.
Those allocated space for weekend flea markets, she added, should start operations every Saturday after 1pm and remove their wares and clean up their areas by 5pm every Sunday. She said a new vendor registration programme would begin tomorrow (Tuesday 10 October 2017) at the Housing and Social Development Department Offices along Remembrance Drive in Mbare. There would also be a registration desk at the corner of Speke Avenue and Cameron Street in the CBD, she said.
“Trading outside the demarcated zones will attract the full wrath of the law and deregistration for repeat offenders. All fresh produce wholesalers are prohibited from operating in the CBD; their space is at Mbare and Lusaka wholesale markets. Pushcarts are also prohibited in the CBD in terms of the pushcarts by-law. In addition to that, the city will demolish all illegal structures on vending sites and ranks. We therefore urge those who had erected illegal structures to pull them down immediately, failure of which council will assist them to do so,” said Mrs Ncube.
She said the sale of groceries on the streets was prohibited and that obstruction of roads by vendors was a punishable offense in terms of the Criminal Law and Codification Reform Act. Last week, Government, through the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, directed local authorities to identify new loading bays for conventional transport operators away from the central business district as part of measures to decongest cities and towns and to contain touts who have become a menace to the travelling public. Responding to questions from backbenchers during a question and answer session in Parliament last week, Minister Kasukuwere said Harare council would soon close down old bus termini like Market Square and Copacabana, among others.
“The phenomenon (of touts) has caught us not ready for it. We have seen a rise of men working as touts. We still have old bus stops like Market Square, Copacabana. And even buses which are supposed to load at Mbare Musika are loading passengers in the city centre. The City of Harare must identify loading bays and close down old bus terminus in the CBD,” said Minister Kasukuwere.