Congolese Nationals Take Over Mbare Tuckshops – Council

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By James Muonwa

THE majority of tuckshops targeted for demolition in Mbare by the Harare City Council HCC next week are run by Congolese citizens, it has emerged.

Early this week, the local council issued a warning to all tuckshop owners and vendors operating in the capital city to remove their structures before 18 February or they will be targeted for demolition after that date.

According to HCC communications manager Michael Chideme, it has been discovered that a lot of the operators of tuckshops at the lucrative Mbare Musika Market were Congolese nationals.

However, the HCC spokesperson said the directive to pull down the illegal structures should not be construed as a xenophobic attack.

He made the remarks Thursday during a virtual meeting organised by the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) whose topic was; “Update on Renovation and Development of Satellite Markets”.

Chideme said; “There in one interesting thing happening which is the mushrooming of tuckshops, especially in Mbare and other suburbs. The city has since advised the operators of those illegal tuckshops to move out and let the land revert to its original use.

“But very interestingly on the tuckshops, if you go to Mbare you notice the majority of the operators are not Zimbabwean citizens. So when people make an outcry ‘you are removing tuckshops during this time (of the Covid-19 pandemic), how do you want people to live…”

Chideme launched an affront against the Congolese entrepreneurs for causing lawlessness in Mbare.

“Underlying that is people who are operating those tuckshops, the majority are Congolese and they don’t have regard for our by-laws. We have to look into that together with our vendors’ associations to see whether it is our people who are benefitting or foreigners.

“But we have to do it in such a manner that does not promote xenophobia but in such a way that promotes nation building,” added Chideme.

Turning to fresh vegetable markets, Chideme said in addition to the traditional Mbare Musika, council has decentralised vending activities to Mabvuku, Hatcliffe, Lusaka, Kuwadzana, Mukambo in Highfields and Coca Cola Open Space.

He, however, acknowledged the facilities were still to be spruced up to proper standards as the local council faced financial challenges to fund refurbishment in 2020.

The projects would be financed and completed through the 2021 budget.

The city’s spokesperson said council was alive to the urgent need to create conducive and ideally-positioned operating spaces for vendors to prevent congesting the capital.