The Harare City Council appears not committed to removing vendors from the streets and pavements and Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, should crack the whip to jolt city fathers into action.
Wednesday and Thursday events, where some vendors were moved to designated vending booths briefly and later returned to their illegal selling points, is an indication that the MDC-T-led council wants to score political points at the expense of the vendors.
MDC-T that is fast losing grip in Harare, its traditional stronghold, still dreams of making a dramatic comeback in 2018 after losing ground to Zanu-PF in recent by-elections, hence its lukewarm approach towards the vendors issue.
We implore Government not to tolerate such actions and a crystal clear message should be sent to Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni and his team at Town House that the kitchen doors are open if the heat becomes unbearable.
It’s the city’s duty to ensure Harare retains its Sunshine City status, the status of a glorious city free from dirty and other pestilence.
Since June 2 when former Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Dr Ignatius Chombo gave city fathers a seven day ultimatum to remove vendors from the streets and settle them elsewhere, it is baffling to note that no structures are in place as yet.
Since the ultimatum was issued, as of yesterday, not all vending sites had been tarred, let alone given ablution facilities.
The sites are a sorry state of dusty areas, where the vendors are expected to sell their wares including food to the public in such squalid conditions. It is lame and shameless for Mayor Manyenyeni to claim that council has no capacity to remove vendors, yet it is one of its responsibilities to keep the city clean. What the Mayor said is tantamount to abrogation of his responsibilities and if he meant his words, then Minister Kasukuwere should wield the axe immediately.
That said, our entrepreneurs should also be warned that they are not a law unto themselves and failure to abide by the law has some serious consequences.
Harare cannot become a haven for criminal activities and a source of communicable diseases just because a group of misguided elements sponsored by some organisations bent on causing anarchy are refusing to abide by the law.
Registered and law abiding vendors should heed Government’s call for them to move to new sites they were allocated by the city and given the challenges the economy faces, other services will follow later.
It is common knowledge that these vendors follow customers in town and as long as the city allows kombis to pick up passengers in the city centre, no vendor will agree to leave the streets and pavements where their market will be.
The city fathers should first ensure all kombis are not allowed to pick up passengers anywhere in the city, but move to designated ranks and loading bays and these are areas the vendors should be moved to.
The problems of kombis and vendors are interlinked and we implore the city to deal with these problems simultaneously.
Besides, the city should ensure that not all products are sold in the city centre, others such as second hand shoes and clothes should be sold elsewhere on the outskirts of the city.
However, the critical issue in this whole saga is dialogue among all stakeholders including city fathers, Government, vendors’ representatives and the police if a lasting solution is to be hammered.
It is disheartening that some vendors have agreed to be pitted against each other by some forces and recent cases of vendors who assaulted each other over the control of vending booths should be condemned with the strongest terms it deserves.