There is no going back on a Friday deadline for illegal vendors to relocate from urban streets and pavements to designated sites being set up in various parts of Harare and other towns, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Small to Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni told leaders of vendors associations at a meeting in Harare yesterday that they should be ready for orderly relocation.
This came after a section of the vendors presented a petition to Parliament seeking to resist relocation following the granting of permission by the High Court for them to march to the august House.
Illegal vendors led by MDC-T member, Mr Stan Zvorwadza, who lost in primary elections in Mbare ahead of the 2013 harmonised elections, organised the march to Parliament.
Minister Nyoni said it was unfortunate that opposition politicians were capitalising on the vendors’ plight to incite them to disregard tomorrow’s deadline.
It emerged at the meeting that illegal vendors in Harare are now represented by 17 unions and 16 of them were present and pledged to comply with the deadline.
Mr Zvorwadza’s National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe was the only one absent after it pursued the court route.
During deliberations at the meeting, the 16 vendors associations’ leaders accused Mr Zvorwadza of seeking political mileage by exploiting the plight of vendors.
They alleged that Mr Zvorwadza, who is out of the country, had visited several countries in the last few weeks seeking funds to mobilise illegal street vendors to resist the Government directive. Mr Zvorwadza allegedly visited Britain and the United States as well as 17 other countries.
His association had written to Minister Nyoni on Tuesday seeking an extension of the deadline.
“This is wrong, you (NAVUZ) wrote to me seeking an extension and before I could respond you are already marching in the streets,” said Minister Nyoni. “I think you have already decided your fate. Never allow yourselves to be used. We are busy arranging that we support you so that your businesses grow and that you are not used by some who wants to achieve their political goals.”
Minister Nyoni said Government had done all it could to assist the illegal vendors.
“As a ministry, we tried to negotiate on your behalf so that we put in place policies, mechanisms and negotiate with other ministries to make it easy for you and for land to be available. As a ministry that we have achieved,” she said.
“We negotiated with other ministries for you to be given up to Friday (tomorrow) and the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Cde (Ignatius) Chombo, I thank him very much, has worked with you as leaders of vendors and we have come up with 14 places which are available for you,” she said.
“So, the ball is in your court. We would like you to move from here and make sure that what we agreed is followed.”
The Harare City Council is constructing vending sites in Harare, while Government will erect box parks for small to medium enterprises.
In Harare, the illegal vendors will be relocated to spaces near the City Sports Centre along Rekayi Tangwena Avenue, at the commuter omnibus parking bay along Coventry Road and at the corner of Cripps and Seke roads.
Grassroots Empowerment Fleamarkets and Vendors Trust chairman, Mr Alexio Mudzengerere said at the meeting that his association would respect the Government deadline.
“We don’t see anything bad with the decision,” he said. “navuz, represented by Zvorwadza, is right now organising a march. I don’t think these people are representing vendors, they have an agenda.”
Mr Arthur Muromba of the Zimbabwe National Vendors Association said they supported Government’s decision and that there should be order and sanity in Harare come tomorrow.
Zimbabwe Home Industries and Markets Association president, Mr Onismo Gore said a majority of the illegal vendors were ready to move out.
At the High Court, Justice Happias Zhou barred police from interfering with the illegal vendors aligned to Mr Zvorwadza’s association during their march to Parliament.
Both the illegal vendors’ lawyer Mr Manatsa Fidelis Makore of Maunga Maanda and Associates and the Government lawyer Mr Joseph Mumbengegwi confirmed the order.
The illegal vendors filed an urgent application on Tuesday where they cited Officer Commanding Police in Harare Central District, the Police Commissioner General and the Home Affairs Minister as respondents.
They wanted Parliament to intervene and ensure postponement of their relocation to allow them to properly register and be allocated vending sites.
After the court victory, the illegal vendors then marched to Parliament where they presented their petition to Assistant Clerk of Parliament, Mr Johane Gandiwa.
The illegal vendors marched to Parliament without any incident under the watchful eyes of the police.