Council declares war on vendors

BULAWAYO City Council police yesterday conducted an early morning raid on city vendors’ makeshift warehouses in the central business district and confiscated goods worth thousands of dollars.

BY BENSON DUBE/NQOBILE BHEBHE

When the Southern Eye news crew arrived at the destroyed sites, several vendors were in a state of shock as they gathered the few items, mostly vegetables, left behind during the raids by over 60 municipal police officers.

One of the vendors, Bongani Ndlovu, said the raids started at around 5am.

“Council police got here early in the morning and took all our wares. They took tomatoes, onions, and potatoes among other wares,” Ndlovu said.

“As it is I have lost items valued at over $100. I don’t know where to start. These people have no mercy.”

Another vendor, Caroline Moyo vowed to return to her illegal vending site soon, saying it was difficult to secure formal employment.

Vendors  standing in disaray after their wares were taken by Bulawayo City Council yesterday

Moyo said she felt betrayed by council which had previously given them a go ahead to trade at the illegal sites.

“Council had promised to let us sell our stuff freely but what has just happened is painful. They have betrayed us, but we are coming back tomorrow (today) because this is the only source of income for some of us,”Moyo said.

By mid-day, the municipal police were seen gathered at City Hall car park before they later dispersed.

Council spokesperson Nesisa Mpofu said the municipal police were merely enforcing standing by-laws and the operation against vendors was indefinite.

“We are enforcing by-laws and they are not raids. We will continue to enforce them (by-laws) and there is no cut-off date,” she said.

Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo recently defied a government directive to drive away street vendors from the city centre, arguing that his council had a “pro-poor policy” and would find other ways of accommodating them.

The mayor had said by-laws would be amended to ensure they were dovetailed with the prevailing socio-economic environment.

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