Gweru (The Times-New Ziana)-Gweru Mayor Dr Josiah Makombe has called for increased cooperation between council and vendors.
Speaking during International Street Vendors Day organised by the Vendors Initiative for Social Economic Transformation (Viset) and the Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA), Dr Makombe said the feud between council and vendors must be a thing of the past.
He said the current street battles between vendors and municipal police was a clear indication that there was no dialogue.
Dr Makombe promised to stop raids on vendors if vendors become organised and engage council with its leadership.
“We have realised that you are contributing towards the development of the economy and we do not want to continue having running battles.
“You should organise yourselves so that we see how we can move forward together,” Dr Makombe said.
Dr Makombe said informal traders should flash our space barons who profiteer at the expense of the majority.
He said they should come up with leaders who have integrity who will not take advantage of them.
The mayor said vendors should utilise market stalls that have been built for the purposes of vending.
He said council realised that most people were now in the informal sector and had included them in their strategic plan.
“We have started by saying let us put infrastructure that can be utilised by informal traders.
“We have done that at Kudzanayi Bus Terminus and we now have plans for Mtapa market and Kombayi, where there will be refrigerated warehouses so that farmers’ leftovers do not go bad,” he said.
Dr Makombe said they would also work on modernising their by-laws so that they are in tandem with what is obtaining.
Viset director Samuel Wadzayi said over 95 percent of the country’s population survive through the informal sector and supporting them would make the economy grow.
He said vendors should not only point fingers at local authorities but they should also self-introspect weather they are doing right or wrong.
“The running battles are not necessary, lets seek solution and build each other,” Wadzayi said.
Zimbabwe Urban Councils Workers Union Gweru chairperson Kudakwashe Munengiwa urged vendors to work together so that they fight for their interests.
“A vendor is an economic actor and collaboration gives them mass power to fight violence and sexual harassment by local authorities,” he said.
“In most cases engagement through various forums has led to less fighting.”
GRRA executive director Cornelius Selipiwe said vendors have opportunities to work on after the mayor’s presentation.
“Opportunities available include engagement, getting organised, refer to the council strategic plan which acknowledges vendors needs, working with council on by-laws as well as following up on the mayor’s promise to stop harassment of vendors.”
Selipiwe said they were going to come up with a position paper that would take council to task.
The Times- New Ziana