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Zanu-PF linked space barons cause havoc

by Staff reporter
05 Feb 2024 at 04:11hrs | Views
SUSPECTED Zanu-PF linked space barons are giving Gweru City Council a torrid time at the Mtapa fresh produce market as they collect fees from vendors, a situation that has forced the local authority to privatise the place, it  has been established.

Mayor Martin Chivhoko (pictured) said politically connected space barons were collecting money from about 400 informal traders they illegally allocated stalls at Mtapa.

Chivhoko said his council was expected to offer services at the busy market place housing close to 3000 vendors, but the plans were being derailed by the space barons.

"We are expected to put order at the market, but the challenge is that there are politically connected space barons who are collecting money from vendors and not remitting to the council,"Chivhoko said.

"When we send our enforcement officers they refuse to pay, become violent and chase away our workers and recently one of our security officials was assaulted."

Chivhoko said the situation was now out of hand such that the council was considering privatising the vending market in a bid to realise income from the council owned marketplace.

"We are going to privatise that place so that at least we get something just in the same way we did with City Parking and Kudzanayi bus terminus," he said.

"The partner will run the market and then pay us at the end of the month."

Council had set between US50 cents and US$1 per day as fees for the spaces occupied by vendors.

Most of the vendors at Mtapa were relocated during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021 when the government ordered the demolition of structures in urban areas to promote what it called the smart city concept.

In 2021, Zanu-PF activists from the Midlands capital allegedly grabbed vending stalls at Mtapa market and demanded money from people who they illegally allocated the space.

During that time, ruling party youths were moving around the market claiming at least US$2 per week from the approximately 600 informal traders who benefitted from the unprocedural allocations.

Zanu-PF has repeatedly distanced itself from the unscrupulous people illegally collecting fees from vendors saying those affected should report to law enforcement agents.

But records show that although council reports the barons to police, there were no arrests because of the powerful Zanu-PF Midlands bigwigs behind them. The ruling party's Gweru district spokesperson Victor Maride said Zanu-PF was a disciplined party, which did not engage into illegal activities but could not be drawn to comment further as he said he was "busy attending to by-elections preparations." The by-elections were held yesterday.

Zanu-PF linked space barons are causing headaches in other cities such as Bulawayo and Harare, and are blamed for the flood of informal traders in the streets.

Source - southern eye
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