Recently the Harare City Council issued an ultimatum against vendors and traders who are currently occupying the roadside stalls situated at Mbudzi roundabout. The council said the traders had 48 hours to voluntarily remove their stalls and goods after which the council would forcibly remove them. The vendors and traders at Mbudzi have however refused to budge calling the order to vacate their stalls unconstitutionally and unfair.

Council has served 48-hour notices to over 320 people settled on the Mbudzi interchange road reserve.

The notices encourage the residents to remove their structures without council assistance which normally comes in the form of dozers.

The road interchange is a national project. Affected residents will be allocated space elsewhere. A committee to address the issue is working on the matter.

Part of the statement by TEdius Chinyanga of the Ministry of Transport and Infraustructure Developement

The authorities had promised to find a suitable space for the vendors to use instead of their current location which they say is in the way of ongoing and planned projects. It’s not clear where the vendors would be allowed to set up if they move and this is perhaps why most of them have refused to budge. In previous times vendors have been moved to out of town locations that are not frequented by members of the public.

These out of the way locations tend to lead to a drop in sales. We saw this when vendors were moved from Charge Office (Harare Central Police Station) and located to stalls close to Coca Cola along Seke Road. That location is now abandoned and most vendors are now back in town and near the charge office again.

This is totally unacceptable. As much as we appreciate the fact that the roundabout needs to be looked at in terms of improving the road network, we are totally against an ultimatum that puts pressure on members.

A 48-hour notice is really unacceptable. Why do they want to destroy livelihoods like that? These things should be done in a manner that is organised.

We don’t want our informal traders who are surviving from hand-to-mouth to be ambushed like that. We are considering challenging this in the courts of law as we are concerned that it’s illegal. This is uncalled for and we will not accept it, therefore, we are challenging it.

Samuel Wadzai the director of Vendors for Social and Economic Transformation

The view was echoed by several other vendor organisations who decried the fact that the government despite failing to create employment for people tends to view vendors as criminals or a nuisance that had to be stamped out. They pointed to the fact that COVID-19 and the economic crisis in Zimbabwe had created a situation where most people were surviving and living from hand to mouth. They said the move would impoverish vendors and make a bad situation worse.