ZIMBABWE – In a major climbdown yesterday, Harare City Council urged all vendors operating at illegal sites in and around Mbare to relocate to Shawasha Grounds.
This was a departure from earlier threats by the local authority that it would forcibly remove the vendors from illegal trading points if they did heed the directive.
About 1 500 traders in Mbare were last week served with 48-hour eviction notices that expired on Monday.
The vendors are using council land without leases or permission.
Council threatened to demolish the structures of those who failed to comply with the directive to move.
In an interview yesterday, the city’s acting principal communications officer, Mr Michael Chideme, said council was temporarily regularising trading by vendors until proper structures were built.
“What we are doing is we are engaging the informal sector, educating them on the need to trade from approved sites. We are regularising people in Mbare, about a thousand or so, advising them to remove illegal structures themselves in an orderly manner so that they may use the material again,” said Mr Chideme.
“There are a lot of approved sites and we are saying to people they should move away from unlawful trading sites. For instance, we have vendors trading by the roadside yet it poses a danger to their lives as they can be run over by cars or cause congestion which can result in traffic accidents. As for Shawasha Grounds, we are saying people should move two or so metres away from the road,” he said.
Mr Chideme said council would collect $1,25 per day from the stalls, funds which he said would be used for the construction of proper infrastructure for the vendors.
Earlier last year, the city’s former town clerk, Dr Tendai Mahachi, was quoted as saying the city had partnered an investor, Consortio Zimbabwe, for the construction of a $30 million Shawasha Business Complex that was set to begin in April 2015.
Mr Chideme said construction of the shopping complex would commence soon.
The MDC-T-dominated council has been failing to deal with vendors and the commuter omnibus chaos in the city, creating an eyesore in what was once described as the “Sunshine City”.