The Gweru Residents Forum has noted with concern over the at few months Gweru City Council municipal police acting in collaboration with the officers of the Zimbabwe Republic Police harassing vendors in the central business district on a daily basis. Vending is a reality in most urban local authorities and a direct response to the prevailing adverse socio-economic conditions. What boggles the mind is that Gweru City council is expending a lot of financial resources and human capital at a time when council is reeling under serious debt while it prioritise harassment of vendors who are trying to eke out a living under very difficult socio-economic conditions. These vendors are the same ratepayers who are expected to finance council service delivery mandate. There is need for Gweru City Council to strike a balance between the demand for vending goods and the maintenance of good urban development.
Reports emanating from Gweru City Town house suggests that the vending blitz is a central government directive but at the expense of the ordinary ratepayers who are financing the operation that is directly oppressing them. The GRF implores the Ministry responsible for local government to ensure that Ministerial directive must be accompanied by financial resources to carry out their own activities and not having unfunded mandates like the vendor persecution blitz.
The informal sector in Zimbabwe over the last four years has significantly increased its influence in the urban food system across the country. This has been necessitated by increased urbanisation and the rising unemployment levels in the country rendering the informal sector both a livelihood and income generating venture among the urban poor. There is limited dialogue and engagement between the state mechanism (council, Ministry of local government and the vending public. Unfettered overhaul of the colonial by laws is critical to accommodate existing realities in the urban space. Sustained dialogue and engagement among the urban space actors is encouraged to reach common ground and areas of cooperation. Reorganising and rezoning the city and an institutional paradigm shift in line with developments in the urban food system is recommended.
The GRF implores the Gweru City Council to:
- Prioritise Vending and strike a balance between urban vending markets and development control
- Central government must stop unfunded mandates to councils and provides necessary funding for central government projects
- Devolve planning and development control functions to council level to enhance efficiency and responsiveness to the prevailing local socio-economic realities
Source: Gweru Residents Forum