ZIMBABWE – Harare City Council has temporarily suspended relocation of vendors after flea market vendors clashed with fruit vendors over market stalls last month.
The council had issued flea market vendors with seven-day notices at Copacabana to move to a vending site constructed by the city at the corner of Seke and Cripps Roads.
However, the vendors refused to vacate and clashed with fruit vendors who wanted to take over their stalls.
According to the recent minutes of the Informal Sector committee, police had to intervene to stop the warring parties.
“As a result of the violence, the relocation has been temporarily suspended pending new enforcement strategies.
“The acting districts administration manager advised that they were liaising with the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the vendors to ensure that the matter is resolved amicably,” read part of the minutes.
The committee reiterated the need to expeditiously implement resolutions and implored the Human Resources and General purposes Committee to reconsider the issue of providing security to council officials during work and to premises of senior council officials and the Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni.
Harare city ordered vendors to move out of the streets to designated places in its efforts to restore sanity in the as they were selling their wares on pavements leaving less or no room for pedestrians.
Meanwhile, illegal vendors have resorted to selling their wares at night to avoid arrests by municipal police.
The Herald toured the city after hours over the weekend and the illegal vendors could be seen selling a wide range of products ranging from vegetables, fish, potatoes to fruits.
They were most visible downtown along Mbuya Nehanda, Chinhoyi, Jason Moyo and Simon Muzenda bus terminus (formerly Fourth Street).
Those interviewed complained that business was low at the new sites on the outskirts of the central business district.
“We find ourselves coming back to sell in town because things are hard at the markets out there. There is no business and the competition is stiff. Customers are few and we end up trading between ourselves as vendors.
“We now sell from designated sites during the day to avoid arrests and then during evenings, when the officers are gone, we display our goods for the convenience of those people who will be on their way home. Business pays most during such hours,” said one vendor who only identified herself as Ms Gomo.
Other vendors echoed the same sentiments.
The vendors are exposing their customers to diseases such as cholera as they operate from dirty pavements.
The onset of the rains has made the situation worse.
Harare City acting corporate communications manager, Mr Michael Chideme, urged vendors to operate at designated sites to avoid arrest.
“Our enforcement officers move around the city ensuring that vendors operate at designated sites. Of course, we have been getting some resistance, but we shall continue implementing effective policing until there is sanity in the city.
“We are saying that even if they are to sell at night, they should do so from the designated sites,” he said.