Vendors create havoc in upmarket shopping centres

Huge potholes, nickname dish-holes, are a common sight at the once upmarket, Newlands shopping centre.

A pothole that was filled at Newlands shopping centre.
A pothole that was filled at Newlands shopping centre.

Piles of rubbish can be seen at the back of one grocery shop, where workers blamed council incompetence and said failture to collect rubbish was attracting the continued illegal dumping of waste at their premises.

The introduction of a one-way lane is the only blessing that makes accidents avoidable as cars swerve from side to side to avoid the huge dish-holes. Vendors marketing their various wares add to the troubles of the shoppers.

“When you tell them that you are not interested in what they are selling, they sometimes hurl all sorts of obscenities at you,” said Dione Rusike from Eastlea in Harare. “Being harassed by vendors is nothing new. It has become our daily routine.”

Harassment too much

Another resident, Mike Garwe, suggested that shop owners should take responsibility for the welfare of their customers, especially when they leave their cars parked outside their shops.

“The harassment is now just too much – to the extent that sometimes you are forced to drive off without even buying what you wanted to buy,” he said.

Hamutendi Chapwanya urged shop owners to invest in the area outside their shops, especially as the council was failing to ensure a clean and well-maintained environment.

“Our cars are vandalised by these vendors and it would be helpful if shop owners could deploy their security officers to take care of our vehicles so that we can have happy shopping,” she said.

The situation is the same at Avondale shopping complex in Harare. “We are not even sure where we should go and do our shopping in peace. My children call this place a vendors’ territory,” said a resident only identified as Sir Bramson.


Christopher Mbanga, the city councillor for Highlands, said he had engaged the vendors as part of efforts to ensure peaceful shopping for residents in the area.

“We have warned the vendors against harassing shoppers. They are aware that if they continue with their behaviour, we will have to use council by-laws, which is to a large extent to their disadvantage,” said Mbanga.

“The vendor phenomenon is not peculiar to Zimbabwe. Because of the harsh economic environment, we have to find ways of co-existing with people trying to make a living. But this does not mean that they should infringe on other people’s freedoms and choices,” he said.

Clean-up committee

Mbanga commended residents in Highlands who have established a clean-up committee to assist the city council in maintaining a clean environment. “As we speak, council has repaired the potholes and the situation is much better now,” he said.

He plans to engage residents on how they can come up with a development plan to ensure that their area is clean and well-maintained. Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said council welcomed partnerships especially from individuals, companies and residents willing to invest in a cleaner city. “Business owners should invest in their areas of operations and assist council in making Harare a better place. This way, we can make Harare a sunshine city once again,” he said.

Stanislaus Mangoma, director of Enterprise Development in the ministry of Industry and Commerce, told delegates at a recent World Bank seminar on trade and competitiveness in Harare that capital equipment in Zimbabwe was on average over 30 years old.

$18 billion needed

He attributed failure to invest in infrastructure modernisation to the hyper-inflation era saying Zimbabwe needed about $18 billion to modernise its infrastructure and recapitalise.

In a report presented to the World Bank, the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Unit (PREMU) painted a gloomy picture of Zimbabwe’s capacity to rehabilitate its dilapidated infrastructure.

According to the PREMU, government needs more than 112 years to rehabilitate its road network given the meagre resources allocated each year towards refurbishment of roads.

“Zimbabwe’s economic crisis during 1999 to 2008 resulted in poorly maintained roads pitted with potholes, increase in wear and tear on trucks. The resultant slow transport times drive up costs and maintenance and rehabilitation of roads suffer the consequences,” reads the report.

The African Development Bank in 2011 reported that of the country’s total road network of nearly 90,000 kilometres, the proportion of fair to good road conditions declined from 73% in 1995 to 60% in 2011.

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