Council Offsides on Demolition of Tuckshops

The Combined Harare Residents Association condemns the intention by Harare City Council to demolish tuck-shops at a time when the Zimbabwean economy is in dire straits and heavily informalised due to lack of employment.

The proposed demolitions are a clear war against livelihoods and aiming at further impoverishing the already suffering Harare residents especially this COVID period.

We are worried by the continued failure by the City of Harare to recognize the informal sector as a potential revenue stream and contributor to the local authority budget.

CHRA is opposed to the autocratic tendencies that have been adopted by the local authority since the emergence of COVID 19 of issuing orders.

It is disappointing that the local authority has taken advantage of the closing civic space there by unilaterally making outrage and unreasonable decisions which have dire consequences on poor residents.

The 18 February 2021 order and threat issued by council that “all people illegal tuck-shops across town should stop operations and remove their structures” without consultation and engagement of the “illegal” tuck-shops owners is unacceptable and not pro-poor.

It is very unfortunate that these so-called demolitions seem to have other motives beyond “development control”, as it targets high density areas where the urban poor resides.

CHRA appreciates the intention of the City to bring order and sanity on market stalls and tuck-shops but condemns the process of how the City intends to “control development” by issuing orders without broader consultations and engagement.

We warn that any City Planning that is devoid of local contextual needs is a catalyst towards propagating inequalities.

We further warn that any attempt to destroy livelihoods through the “demolitions” will have serious political consequences and costs on those peddling this anti-people agenda.

We are also aware that in complying with the Cabinet directive last year, Harare City Council demolished makeshift stalls and tuck-shops at Kamunhu Shopping Centre, Mabvuku, but soon after the demolitions politicians spearheaded re-allocation of vending spaces.

We therefore recommend the following:

  • The City of Harare must shelve the demolitions, engage players in the informal sector and the “illegal” tuck-shop owners to come up with an inclusive solution to the problem.
  • The City of Harare must expedite and complete the process of coming up with its own master plan since the currently used Master Plan was last reviewed and updated in 1993, and the reviewed Master Plan must integrate the informal economy activities.
  • Depoliticization of the informal sector that has been seriously affected by partisan politics and used as a tool for partisan political mobilization.

Source: Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)