State Security Chiefs Take-Over Control Of Vendors’ Trading Sites

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By Idah Mhetu

THE provincial Joint Operations Command (JOC), which brings together the army, police and intelligence service commanders will be in charge of allocating new vending sites to informal traders as soon as the national lockdown restrictions are eased.

This was announced in a rare joint statement issued by the Minister of State for Harare, Oliver Chidawu, and Harare mayor, Herbert Gomba Wednesday.

The statement said special allocation committees chaired by the members of the provincial Joint Operations Command (JOC) and a member from Chidawu’s ministry will be in charge of allocating the market stalls.

The State and the Harare City Council are currently on a joint operation in high-density suburbs, demolishing informal traders’ market stalls.

The move has drawn strong condemnation from various stakeholders as most Zimbabweans are now relying on vending for survival due to the unavailability of jobs.

However, Chidawu and Gomba said they were working on constructing new market stalls for informal traders and JOC members will spearhead the allocations to avoid partisan allocation.

“This is to allay fears of displacement, safeguard livelihoods and avoid partisanship in the allocation of stalls,” Chidawu and Gomba said in their statement.

In the past, Zanu PF and MDC members have been involved in the allocation of vending stalls depending on which of the two rival parties had control in that particular area.

“Government and local authorities have noted with concern the anxiety that has gripped players in the informal sector since the City of Harare and other authorities began removing illegal structures in and around Harare Central Business District, Mbare, Highfields and other areas within Harare,” reads the statement.

Chidawu and Gomba claimed the proposed trading sites would be ready for occupation immediately after the end of the lockdown that was extended by another two weeks by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last Sunday.

“To this end, the City of Harare and other local authorities are already in the process of identifying and preparing alternate workplaces for informal traders. These are expected to be ready for occupation by the expiry of the extended lockdown announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa,” the joint statement further reads.

“The overriding objective has been to ensure a clean and orderly and well-managed city that ensures optimum revenue collection by local authorities.

“The exercise has indeed affected the livelihoods of residents in Harare. However, government and local authorities are not insensitive to the plight of informal traders and fully realise the need to maintain their sources of income,” the two politicians said.