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Harare heads for a clash with vendors

THE City of Harare is headed for a fresh confrontation with informal traders after it introduced a set of by-laws to ban vending in the central business district (CBD).

Informal traders vowed to fight back as they accused authorities of being divorced from economic realities that drive ordinary people into vending to make a living.

In recently published by-laws, the local authority said informal traders were not allowed to sell any goods or foodstuffs in the CBD without a valid permit or lease agreement.

The municipality also banned pushcarts commonly referred to as zvingoro used at informal trading places like Magaba, Mupedzanhamo and Mbare Musika bus terminus.

Samuel Wadzai, Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation executive director, said the new by-laws were harsh on people who survived on vending.

"These laws will definitely have a huge negative impact on people who survive through vending and informal work given the status of the economy,” Wadzai said.

“This is not the best time to try to outlaw vending; it's where the majority are surviving [from].”

Wadzai, however, said they would engage council with proposals for a win-win situation to protect the livelihoods of people.

"Our view is we need by-laws that are humane, by-laws that are in sync with economic realities of the country,” he said.

"What is being proposed by Harare City Council is totally unacceptable given the status of our economy.

“We will put counter proposals ... we should be working together but the laws should not be there to prevent people from surviving.”

Informal traders representative, Wisborn Malaya, said they were not consulted.

“As always the challenge we face is that the city fathers just set up laws without consultation. At the end, the laws become more abusive and destructive instead of promotion of order,” he said.

 "The city should designate strategic places for pushcart traders to operate from in an orderly manner  using a four-arrow zoning system.

“This will promote order and sanity in the city. It will also allow the council to monitor the licensing of the same without struggle.”

Malaya said eradicating informal trading in a country with a high unemployment rate was a futile exercise.

"These are the youths who are fighting to earn a living in a legal manner. It's a source of employment and food distribution which just requires smart regulation and not harsh laws,” he said.

Council also banned “street”butcheries in the CBD.

The council’s by-laws also touch on noise pollution saying it’s an offence.

A number of shops and informal traders use hailers and play loud music to advertise their goods. The by-laws outlaw such practice.

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