BULAWAYO – Panic has set among vendors and informal traders in Bulawayo as the deadline for them to cease operating from the central business looms.
The Local Government Minister, Dr. Ignatius Chombo, ordered all local authorities to clear vendors from the streets and allocate them vending bays by June 26 (Friday).
Bulawayo Mayor, Councillor Martin Moyo, told vendors and informal traders at a meeting yesterday that illegal vendors have been approaching council to regularise their operations.
“If you are not registered, the deadline is fast approaching, you won’t be able to operate if the deadline lapses and us as council we won’t be able to protect you.
“As I speak 1,975 illegal vendors have approached council to be registered ahead of the 26 June deadline,” Cllr Moyo said.
However, the vendors had no kind words for the local authority.
Dumisani Ncube a representative of Bulawayo Upcoming Traders Association blasted the mayor for coming to the critical meeting with “junior staff members who do not make decisions, instead of bringing with him the directors.”
On the issue of illegal vendors, Ncube said most of the people who were operating from the streets were not from Bulawayo.
“Most of the vendors whom you see on the streets are not from Bulawayo, they come from other cities. There is a need for the City Council to look into this and protect its image from being soiled by outsiders,” said Ncube.
Another vendor weighed in by saying, there were no illegal vendors in Bulawayo as most of them belonged to different registered associations.
“You keep referring to us as illegal vendors, there is no illegal vendors in this city. We all subscribe to different registered associations. Maybe we are illegal in the sense that we are known by the council but amongst ourselves we are organised and follow laid down rules,” the vendor said.
Another vendor who identified herself as Miss Ncube, said they had abandoned most of the vending bays they were allocated by council because of lack of business.
“Most of us who were allocated vending bays have abandoned them and gone into the streets because of lack of business. I used to operate along Site 7 (along Robert Mugabe Way) but we get few customers there, that is why I left and went to were the customers,” said Ncube.
Another vendor who identified himself as Khumalo called on the local authority to conduct a vending bay audit as some council officials are said to be renting out the council-owned bays to vendors.
“Council needs to conduct a thorough vending bay audit as there are some people who have four or five bays. They rent out these bays at $50 a month when council only charges $14. We are also aware that there are some council officials who own bays and are also renting them out for $50,” Khumalo said.
The vendors urged council to allocate them vending bays by Friday so that they do not engage in running battles with the Municipal Police.