Government pulls the plug on illegal vendors, kombi operators and building owners in Harare

By Farai Dauramanzi

Minister of Local Government and Public Works Dr Ignatius Chombo has said that time has come for the City of Harare to take action against vendors who are selling their goods on pavements and illegal points as well as kombi operators who use mushikashika (illegal pick and drop points).

Dr Chombo said this while officially launching Harare’s Sustainable Clean-up Campaign 2015 at Town House on 4 February 2015. The sustainable clean-up campaign is aimed at cleaning up the city of litter and illegal economic activities.

The minister who is responsible for all local authorities in the country explained that a number of mechanisms have been put in place to try and persuade members of the informal sector to relocate to the designated vending sites.

“Your associations have communicated this to you (vendors) and it is with great concern that I have learnt that some of you have decided to take the law into their own hands by defying the noble directives,” said Dr Chombo.

Over the past years, vendors have mushroomed everywhere in the Capital and this has been attributed by some to the high unemployment levels being experienced in the country which has seen many people finding economic opportunities in the informal sector. Many other youths have also resorted to touting for passengers for kombis and pirate taxis in order to counter the economic crunch.

“However, the time for action to ensure that all informal traders and kombi operators adhere to the city by-laws have come. I urge all of you to move to designated vending sites as well as pick and drop points for kombis designated by the city council,” added the Minister.

The Local Government Minister revealed that Harare’s CBD have a capacity to accommodate 6000 vending slots which have already been demarcated and are ready for occupation by registered vendors. The designated vending sights are located as follows: Fourth Street (flea market, fruits, and vegetables and dried foods), Charge Office ZRP Flea Market, Charge Office Vegetable Market, Corner Julius Nyerere/Kenneth Kaunda Flea Market, Market Square (flea market and dried foods) and Corner Speke/Cameroon Flea Market.

Other designated sights are George Silundika (Flea Market on Sundays only), Park Street (Flea market and dried fruits), OK Cameroon (Fruit and Vegetables) and lastly Corner Chinhoyi/Samora Machel.

Dr Chombo said that his ministry will join hands with other government ministries which include Small and Medium Enterprises, Environment Water and Climate, Health and Child care as well as the Ministry of Home Affairs.

“Government agencies under the aforementioned Ministers together with the Harare city Council are going to be the enforcement agents with immediate effect. There should be no vending on road pavements, traffic intersections, road islands, middle of the road and in front of shops and offices,” said Dr Chombo.

The Minister explained that Harare was decaying and becoming dilapidated and said that he was instructing the local authority to engage building owners to spruce up their buildings with immediate effect, “I need not emphasize that failure to do so may result in the closure of some of the unsightly buildings.”

Miriam Chikukwa the Harare Metropolitan Resident Minister who also addressed the clean-up campaign launch also came out guns blazing against vendors’ organisations that are using political muscle to invade illegal vending sites.

“Government recognises the important role played by the informal sector. However, we want that role to be played in an organised and mature manner. Let us not use politics where it is not necessary. Your Government does not discriminate along political lines hence you should not claim immunity along political lines so that you continue doing the illegal things,” said Chikukwa.

However, others have said that the move to clean-up the City of vendors and touts was likely to be faced with resistance due to the lack of economic opportunities in the country. One economic analyst who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the clean-up campaign will likely lead to the deprivation of economic opportunities to many.

“The biggest dilemma faced by government is that of where to accommodate all the people who will be driven out of the informal jobs by the campaign. Right now the country’s unemployment rate is over 90% and many continue to lose jobs every day. So I wonder what new plans the government has got since it has failed to deliver on jobs in the past,” said the economic analyst.

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