By Kudakwashe Vhenge
Harare-Informal traders association, Vendors Initiative for Socio Economic Transformation (VISET) has condemned Harare City Council for ‘recklessly’ destroying stalls in Mbare.
City council yesterday demolished vendors’ stalls in the high density suburb threatening the livelihood of thousands of people who solely depend on informal trading.
Bulldozers and front wheel loaders were used to clear all illegal stalls.
VISET, an informal trader’s advocacy group described the move as reckless and irresponsible.
In a statement released by the association today (Sunday), the vendors association had no kind words for the city council.
“We would like to condemn in the strongest of terms the callous decision by the City of Harare to demolish Informal Traders Markets in Mbare, Harare. It would be very irresponsible and reckless for authorities to take advantage of the COVID-19 inspired Lockdown to execute livelihoods threatening operations like what we witnessed in Mbare yesterday”.
The local authority has also been blamed for continuously violating constitutional provisions which obliges government to support small business initiatives by citizens in order to promote self-reliance and maintain livelihoods.
“The criminalization of vending and the subsequent demolition of their vending sites is an abrogation by the state of its obligation to fulfill the constitutional National Objectives under Section 13 (to promote private initiatives aimed at self-reliance), and Section 24 (the removal of all inhibitions that prevent the citizens of Zimbabwe from working or otherwise engaging in gainful economic endeavors),” read the statement.
Contacted for comment, the Harare City council spokesperson Michael Chideme reiterated Council’s position that what prompted the demolitions was the need to remove illegal structures in line with the City’s by-laws.
“Those structures were removed because they are illegal and don’t need to be there in the first place.
” However people who were affected have enough space at Shawasha grounds and beginning tomorrow (Monday) work is beginning to take place to sprout that area and demarcate spaces for the informal sector”, said Chideme.
Asked about the timeliness of demolishing the vending stalls during the time of the “lockdown”, Chideme had this to say.
“No one was at work at the illegal stalls hence there was no inconvenience of people working so that work had to be done to ensure that post Covid, we do not have congestions or crowds in illegal spaces.”