Vendors desperate to stop demolition of stalls

Gweru’s Kudzanai long distance bus terminus recently almost turned into a 'war zone’ when vendors and tuck-shop operators confronted council officials and desperately charged towards a municipal front end loader that was about to destroy their vending stalls.

VendorThe vendors successfully stopped the front end loader from destroying the stalls and tuck-shops of the late, former Hawkers and Vendors Association of Zimbabwe Chairperson, John ‘Tekere’ Samabvu.

The two news reporters were at the scene and witnessed several hundreds protesters, led representative, Lovemore Tingati Reketayi chanting the slogan ‘Gweru vendors are allergic to defeat!’

Like a herd of zebras warding off attackers with a defensive rearguard position, informal traders, tuck-shop and flea market vendors from the four corners of the city charged towards the destructive forces as if they were fighting for their lives.

For about an hour angered vendors demonstrated. Others from various selling points joined the protest, singing anti-municipality songs, chanting slogans, resisting demolition by council personnel and surrounding the front end loader.

The municipality’s move is believed to have been sparked by the death of Samabvu a fortnight ago.  It is alleged that Samabvu had been allocated several stands at the rank.

“This is indeed the devil at work; honestly this is the worst degree of heartlessness by the Commissioners running this council that I have ever experienced. No God blesses a ruthless leader, my bible tells me so. Why do people wait for someone to die? Tekere only died two weeks ago and they are already intimidating the widows and orphans. This is inhumane. They must re-evaluate their decision,” said Councilor Kennedy Sithole.

The police force were called to restore order but they found that the situation had calmed down and returned to normal following the withdrawal of council personnel from the rank.

Samabvu’s widow Sekai Dhliwayo claimed that she is being victimised by council authorities. She said that the vending stalls are her and her eleven children’s inheritance left to them by her late husband. She further alleged that  the victimisation was a move by the same enemies who had a hand in the death of her late husband.

However, information obtained by these reporters indicates that the incident is part of a follow-up directive by the City Council Health Department to remove all vendors from the terminus, citing the contravening of city by-laws.

In a letter addressed to the Town Clerk written prior to the protest, Lovemore Reketayi stated that vendors await health inspection by the health department in order to make the necessary adjustments. Instead of inspection officers and health and safety advice, they have been ordered to vacate the rank.

“That is tantamount to indicating left and turning right. Selling goods at the rank is our only source of livelihood and has sustained our extended families up to now,” reads part of the letter.

Acting Town Clerk Edgar Mwedzi was not available for comment as he was said to be in a meeting.

Post published in: Business

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