Looming war between vendors and Gweru city

Vendors in Gweru have threatened to resist plans by the City Council to chuck them out of the central business district to a new site being constructed on the outskirts of the city.

By Delicious Mathuthu

Gweru City Acting Town Clerk, Edgar Mwedzi said the city is in a ‘mess’ and needs to be sanitized adding that they are in the process of constructing vending marts on the outskirts of town where all vendors sprouted in the CBD will be relocated.

“We are currently in the process of finishing off the Vendor Marts near Swift so that we remove the mess which is in town right now.

“We will have to move them through persuasion because most of them (vendors) don’t have the blessings of formalized vendors, are illegal and disturbing others’ operations and movement of people,” said Mwedzi on possibilities of facing resistance.

However vendors have sworn not to leave the streets declaring blood will be spilled if their local authority force them out.

“We are not moving from here because there is business in the city, where the council wants to put us is way out of town and no one will walk that long to buy, for example, vegetables.

“They must learn to emulate Bulawayo where the council blocked one of the streets in the CBD for vendors selling vegetables,” said Farai Bhura one of the vendors, a father of six surviving on selling vegetables outside Pick n Pay Supermarket.

This is not the first time vendors and the city council have clashed in the city, earlier this year, vendors blocked a front-end loader sent by council authorities to destroy illegal vending stalls at the Kudzanai bus terminus.

Lovemore Reketayi, the vendors’ representative based at the Kudzanai long distance bus terminus said council should be very cautious when approaching the vending issue considering its sensitivity.

He said most people are solely surviving through vending and if wrongly done, it may cause serious conflict.

“Council has to be careful because this is a sensitive issue.

“Some of the vendors are swearing that even if they bring the police or soldiers, they won’t budge, its better blood be spilled until they are allocated proper facilities at convenient areas,” he said.

Reketayi however said they are prepared to move if proper vending stalls are built and council approach is human, because it is council property they are operating on after all.

“We are saying the council should develop those stands first and maybe put a Kombi rank there to direct human traffic as they say, otherwise we are not going anywhere,” he said siding with his fellow tradesman.

Gweru council is considering constructing a local omnibus rank to direct traffic nearer to the vending site.

Another contentious issue raised by vendors is that council made them pay US$6 each promising to allocate them vending stalls but to date nothing has materialized forcing them to operate illegally on the streets.