Vendors in Harare are fighting among themselves over the issuance of vending permits.
By Phyllis Mbanje
The vendors have accused the Harare City Council of corruptly issuing vending cards, amid allegations that a new breed of space barons was being created.
“We are not happy with the corrupt practices of some council officials who are issuing the cards only to vendors known to them or those who have paid some money,” said Onias Gurura who sells his wares around the Copacabana area.
This issue is not new as it has been brought up countless times by the vendors who feel that council was exhibiting double standards.
“They are saying that they want to bring order on the streets but in actual fact they just want to create an opportunity to swindle money from us,” said another vendor.
Some vendors who were issued with the vending cards are still operating from the Copacabana bus terminus, making the roads around the terminus impassable.
The rest of the vendors that have not been lucky enough to get the permits have defiantly remained on the streets, where they engage in running battles with council police.
The Zimbabwe Informal Sector Organisation (Ziso) said the vending cards had mainly been issued to non-vendors who had strong links with council officials.
The organisation claimed that this had resulted in real vendors who needed the cards being deprived and displaced from their sites.
“This might lead to the proliferation of a new breed of space barons who will sublet vending sites to vendors at exorbitant charges,” said Ziso in a statement.
Ziso said it was also worried about the mandatory $1,25 per day payment to council and government.
It said the practice was exploitative as vendors may not turn up or utilise the sites on certain days for various reasons.
But Harare City council denied allegations that vending cards were being corruptly issued.
City spokesperson, Michael Chideme said vendors were panicking as they were now realising that the relocation exercise was going ahead for sure.
“Those are just malicious allegations. Nothing of that sort is happening. Anyone who is a vendor can come and buy their vending card which costs $2,” he said.
Chideme said the exercise would continue until order on the streets was restored.