Home » Governance » Harare Vendors Come to Blows Over Trading Spaces

UGLY scenes have become the order of the day in central Harare as vendors scramble for prime trading spaces in what Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa celebrated as the “new economy”.

With unemployment estimated at more than 80 percent, many Zimbabweans have turned to vending in order to survive.

Harare city council says 20,000 of these vendors are camped in the capital on a daily basis although there is room for just 6,000.

This has seen the vendors, who can be seen on nearly every street in the capital, engage shouting matches and even exchanging fisticuffs over allegations of stealing trading spots.

Explained one Mavis who was recently involved in an ugly fight with another vendor at Copacabana bus rank: “This is my place for the past year or so.

“It doesn’t matter if I come late or early, these new people should go back to where they came from.

Margret Munemo, who operates from corner Robert Mugabe and Fourth street, said it was now a case of survival of the fittest, adding she has to wake up early in the morning to secure prime spots.

“I have to be here between 4am in order to occupy this space, if I don’t come that early it means I will make less or no money at all,” she explained.

Some vendors have even resorted to night shifts in order to maximise earnings.

The fights continue despite Harare Town Clerk, Tendai Mahachi, recently ordering the vendors to leave the central business district (CBD) and operate from residential areas instead.

Mahachi told this publication that the CBD can only accommodate 6,000 vendors yet more than 20,000 troop into the city centre on a daily basis.

“What I have observed is that these vendors lack marketing skills,” said the town clerk.

“Business is more about marketing and if you market and package your product very well then people will come to you.”

He said it was shocking that vendors come from as far as Epworth and Chitungwiza to sell vegetables and cell phone accessories in the city centre yet there are people, and therefore potential customers, in the surbubs.

Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo recently declared war on the vendors telling them to vacate the CDB, saying the local authority must now restore sanity in the city centre.

It is estimated there are 2.5 million informal sector traders in Zimbabwe. The government has moved in to benefit as well with many of the vendors now required to pay a daily levy.

Source : New Zimbabwe