Harare Mayor has sanitised the recent demolitions as an opportunity for council to reclaim market spaces that were in the hands of politically connected “space barons” that have been collecting money from genuine vendors.

The Mayor of Harare Councilor Herbert Gomba said on his Twitter account “our markets have been feeding the bowels of the corrupt …most people have been paying to third parties.”

According to Mayor Gomba Harare has been losing around $ZWL 19 million in revenue to space barons who have been occupying municipal markets and spaces in Harare.

“Genuine traders and vendors have been caught in the crossfire when the local authority wanted to deal with its perennial challenge of space barons” said a vendor in Machipisa.

The Mayor of Harare castigated Mr Alexio Mudzengere of the Grassroots Empowerment Flea Markets Trust Association for illegally taking over Coca Cola vending space and collecting money from traders.

Gomba went on to say “The Coca Cola vendors have for years suffered from an illegal monetary collection by a baron called Mudzengere.” He appealed for help to stop the politically linked space baron (Mudzengere) from collecting money from the municipal market.

While it seems the council intends to regain control of the vending spaces from powerful space barons, the ambushing of unsuspecting traders and vendors by demolishing makeshift vending stalls have received condemnation among Harare residents and Civic Society organisations.

In Glen View residents are lamenting over destruction of grinding mills that have been serving communities during this period of acute mealie meal shortages in the country.

CHRACoordinator for Ward 32 Ms Vimbai Nyachuru said “this trail of destruction has claimed grinding mills. We do not know how residents are going to survive the mealie meal shortages this is unfortunate.”

Council is following a cabinet directive that called on for local authorities to take advantage of the lock down to “clean up and renovate” informal traders working spaces.

CHRA insist on genuine engagement of all stakeholders in the informal sector and urge government, CSOs and Council to work hard towards depoliticisation of the informal sector in Harare.

Source: Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)