Hands off Byo vendors, minister told

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Vendors and members of WOZA demonstrating at the City Hall last month
Vendors and members of WOZA demonstrating at the City Hall last month
Vendors and members of WOZA demonstrating at the City Hall last month

MDC Renewal Bulawayo province has told Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere to exercise extreme caution when dealing with informal traders operating at undesignated sites in the city’s central business district.

BY NQOBILE BHEBHE

The party said vendors were “ready to defend themselves with whatever means” against forced removal by the government.

MDC Renewal said a one-size-fit-all policy could face fierce resistance in Bulawayo.

Fortune Mlalazi, the party’s provincial spokesperson said Kasukuwere’s hardline approach on Harare vendors was bound to backfire if applied in Bulawayo.

He said Zanu PF had abandoned its 2013 election theme, “Indigenise, Empower, Develop, and Create Employment” as it had realised that it was not feasible.

Instead, the ruling party had turned on vendors to divert attention from its limitations, he said.

“Kasukuwere should be warned that Bulawayo is not Harare and he should handle the vendor issue with care,” Mlalazi said.

“He should realise that when the government unleashed Murambatsvina, people were caught unawares, but now residents are more than ready to defend their rights to fend for their families.

“This is a new dispensation and people can no longer be bullied.

“The government has failed to uphold the right of self-sustenance and as a party and defenders of human rights, we won’t fold our hands and watch,” Mlalazi said.

He said the Zanu PF-led government should concentrate on creating formal jobs.

“They have failed to copy China, which developed from the informal sector to a world-class business country,” he added.

However, Kasukuwere has vowed to press ahead with his clean-up campaign in all cities and towns.

Due to harsh economic environment, the number of unemployed people is increasing and many of them are turning to illegal vending in order to eke out a living.

Most streets in the central business district are littered with vendors who are violating city by-laws by selling goods such as stationery, meat, clothes, footwear, cellphone gadgets and accessories next to registered businesses.

Bulawayo has 6 240 unoccupied vending bays, which were deserted after traders noted low customer volumes since the bays were located in secluded areas.