Mutare mayor councilor Tatenda Nhamarare says the council has no immediate plans of removing vendors from the streets following a verbal directive from Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo.
Nhamarare told VOA Studio 7 the minister’s pronouncements for local authorities to immediately remove all illegal vendors from the streets of major cities came through the media, adding his local authority will not move or respond unless they receive a written directive from the ministry.
Vendors are complaining that it is unfair for the government to force them off the streets when the job market continues to be depressed with the country’s economy still in the woods.
Councilor Nhamarare said the local authority would comply with the directive only if it is ordered to do so under some provisions of the Urban Councils’ Act.
Nhamarare said Mutare has more than 2,000 vendors on the streets of the mountainous city with many more in high density residential suburbs.
He said it would be disastrous to remove them in the absence of alternative facilities.
The mayor said the city’s town planning department is currently working on finding alternative places to relocate the vendors but desperately needs partners to work with as the local authority is facing serious financial challenges.
Chombo last week announced that he wanted all cities to get rid of street vendors after accusing them of trading indiscriminately in cities and on pavements and shop entrances at the expense of businesses.
The vendors, in Harare for example, have overrun places like First Street with many saying the city has a result lost its sunshine city status with litter found everywhere.
The minister’s remarks followed Vice President Phelekezele Mphoko’s comments that the vendors were a nuisance as able-bodied people were now into businesses he said were previously meant for the handicapped.
His statement attracted a backlash from the vendors who accused his government of being responsible for the collapse of industries, leading to massive unemployment.
According to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), there are close to 300,000 people in Mutare alone that have been rendered jobless in the past four years.
The CZI says 10 major companies closed shop during the same period, among them, Karina, Mutare Board and Paper Mills while others such as Cairns Foods, Quest Motor Corporation are operating below full capacity.