THE Harare City Council Tuesday said it was giving all food vendors operating in the central business district a 48 hour ultimatum to “cease operations forthwith”.
Acting Town Clerk Josephine Ncube said council was ready for war against vendors trading in the city centre as it takes first measures to control and contain the spread of typhoid.
The Council decision follows that of the Health Ministry which last week also banned the selling of fruits, vegetables and meat in central Harare.
“We are, therefore, issuing a 48 hour ultimatum to all food vendors operating within the Harare Metropolitan area to temporarily cease operations forthwith,” said Ncube in statement.
She added, “The ban will be reviewed depending on improvements on the ground. The ban also covers general vending at illegal sites. Pushcarts used in the CBD will be impounded during the exercise.”
According to Ncube this action was being taken with the interests of the majority “at heart”.
She said, “We are invoking the Public Health Act for the public good. We are aware of the fierce backlash that we will receive from the vending public but our actions are in the public interest.”
Last week when the Health Ministry announced its ban, representatives of informal traders and vendors condemned the decision.
Those who spoke to this publication said vending was their only means of survival adding that typhoid was not in the central business district but in the high density suburbs where unclean water, burst sewage pipes and heaps of uncollected garbage are the order of the day.
They said they would rather die fighting for vending space with law enforcement agencies than be driven into prostitution and criminal activities.
According to the Zimbabwe Informal Sectors Organisation (ZISO) and the National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (NAVUZ) more than a million people are surviving on vending because of failed economy and the government’s inability to create jobs.
The decision by the Government and Harare City Council to ban vending follows reports that more than 2000 cases of typhoid and nine deaths have been reported nationally with 76% of the cases being in Harare.