Pressure mounts to reopen Mupedzanhamo, but SMEs Minister hints not anytime soon

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By Alois Vinga

MUPEDZANHAMO market will not open anytime soon despite mounting pressure and resurfacing running battles between the police and vendors, who keep returning in the hope they would be allowed to trade.

But Women Affairs, Community and SMEs Development Minister, Sithembiso Nyoni’s recent announcements have since poured cold water on expectations that the market will open anytime soon as she insists on the creation of decent work spaces.

The development comes after almost a month’s long violent clashes between suspected Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) and the ruling Zanu PF space barons, unfortunately leading to the loss of one life.

Police have maintained a heavy presence in the area in a bid to contain further violent clashes. Recently, 13 suspects were handed over to the courts.

“A recent assessment of Mupedzanhamo Market showed that there is need to renovate and refurbish the facilities before reoccupation,” said the minister recently after touring the area.

“There is a need to clean the market by removing heaps of rubbish. There is also a need to construct additional toilets to match the 1500 traders.

“The whole complex has only one tap connected to the City Council water source and hence there is need to put up more water sources to match the number of traders in the market.”

She said to address these issues, the Ministry had started engagements with various government department and stakeholders such as Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Ministry of Housing and Social Amenities, Office of the Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Zimbabwe Republic Police and City of Harare with a view to reorganise and modernize the MSME workspace facilities.

The tabled work plans  which are so far not affixed to any timeframe, throws the lives of the area’s traders into jeopardy at a time a significant proportion of the population is surviving on buying and selling.

Nyoni also said she had engaged the SMEs Associations, who expressed their readiness to cooperate with government and council  in order to bring back sanity at their work sites.

“The Minister (Nyoni) must not treat this problem in that way. She needs to know that we are supporting our families from the trade. We are jobless and we can’t wait for the roll out of construction and all.

“Why isn’t she addressing the issues of the old Mupedzanhamo Market, which has been closed since the outbreak of Covid19?” one trader who identified himself as Sinyoro asked.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Chairman, Peter Mutasa also weighed in dismissing the fact that the government needs to put in place proper infrastructure as a mere excuse to maximise on political control of the area.

“The government is busy politicking with people’s lives and livelihoods. The problem at Mupedzanamo is a tussle for political control of the poor people who work there. The City Council must be allowed unrestricted control for the benefit of both the affected  workers and the city.

“As Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition we stated that our crisis is one of governance. At a time when people are suffering from high inflation and high unemployment,  the worst that a government can do is to destroy people’s livelihoods in this manner.

“The government is prioritising power retention and political control at the expense of development and human needs. This is bad and the affected must be assisted to challenge this,” he said.

Currently, running battles with the police are the order of the day as some traders keep returning to the sealed off area in anticipation of selling their wares after enduring many days out of business.