Home » Governance » Where Is the Govt in All This? [editorial]

EARLY every inch of the capital has been invaded by vendors. From downtown to uptown, there is no escaping the ugly sight of vendors who have annexed the central business district (CBD) in order to eke out a living.

With industries closing because of the debilitating economic situation, those who have been rendered jobless are finding the informal sector as the only place to be to escape poverty and provide for their families.

Because of the huge volumes of human traffic into the CBD, vendors are deserting their usual designated selling points to compete for customers in the heart of the city.

Council has been overwhelmed by the influx of the illegal vendors who have turned the capital into one huge vending site.

Although city bylaws outlaw vending in non-designated areas, there is inertia on the part of the city fathers to enforce them, resulting in a situation whereby Harare now sits on a ticking time bomb.

The vendor menace is pushing formal businesses out of the CBD since the obtaining situation is no longer conducive to do formal business.

These vendors pay nothing to council to enable the city fathers to fund the provision of basic services, which are essential to get Harare going.

Instead, they are a law unto themselves – doing as they please right under the nose of the city fathers.

The municipal authorities claim their hands are tied, abrogating responsibility to politicians whom they accuse of abusing the vendors to feather their own nests.

While the involvement of a political hand is inescapable, this cannot be allowed to continue without the city sliding into anarchy.

Instead of throwing their hands in the air, the city fathers should come up with solutions to restore order before Harare is reduced to another Siya-so (Mbare) or Greenmarket in Mutare.

These vendors must be allocated vending stalls in areas that have proper sanitation facilities so that there is no danger to the health of their inhabitants. The fees charged to the vendors operating from these sites should also be affordable to kill off the temptation to operate outside the law.

Instead of a top to bottom approach in dealing with the menace, the city fathers should adopt an inclusive approach involving all stakeholders, including the politicians and the vendors themselves, through their associations. Once there is agreement on the way forward, council should enforce its bylaws without exception.

In case of resistance, council should involve the other arms of government to ensure normalcy returns to the CBD.

It will be a grave mistake and dereliction of duty on the part of government to leave the situation as it is.

The consequences arising from inaction would be too ghastly to contemplate.

Source : Financial Gazette