By William Milasi
RULING party bigwigs in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s backyard Kwekwe are using vendors to solicit for votes in the coming harmonized elections, MDC-T councillors in the gold mining city have said.
The outrage, the opposition city fathers said, was undermining council efforts to address uncontrolled street trading in Kwekwe’s central business district (CBD)
Contributing to debate during a recent full council meeting the opposition councillors said, Zanu PF politicians gave vendors’ free reign to operate in the CBD during the party’s primary elections.
“It is a futile exercise to be seated here and pretend to be proffering solutions to the long-standing vendor crises,” Finance Committee Chairperson Janet Ticharunga said.
“Was it a coincidence that when Zanu PF was having its primary elections vendors started to once again flood the streets?
“It was not a coincidence because we know that there are some people who were soliciting for votes from the vendors and some of them even won the polls.
“The situation might normalize may be after the elections and only after putting in place a new council.”
Ward 10 councillor Aaron Gwalazimba said even the police are now fed up with the situation.
“We have realized that the municipal cops and even the Zimbabwe Republic Police are now fed up of the situation,” he said.
“We had successfully driven vendors from the CBD, but this upsurge is an indication that the street traders have the backing of powerful individuals from the province.”
The outspoken politician added that Kwekwe is sitting on a ticking healthy town bomb as there are no ablution facilities to cater for the growing numbers of vendors.
Meanwhile, Councillor Lemison Dube said a solution to the vendor problem lies in engaging the security services.
“I think at this juncture it is prudent that we engage the Joint Operations Command (JOC) to assist us in driving away vendors from the CBD,” he said.
Acting Town Clerk Lucia Mkandla admitted that council had failed in dealing with the vendor crises as the street traders are resisting to move to designated places.
“We are going to engage JOC. We however need to appreciate the fact that vendors are resisting the structures which were constructed for the sole purposes of vending.
“We have under-utilized structures in our city,” she said.
Director of Works John Mhike said constructing stalls for vendors, at the moment, was not only wasteful but counterproductive.
“We have several developed and underdeveloped places in the city,” he said.
“It would be wastage of resources, at the present moment, to develop these areas since the existing ones are being underutilized.
“The issue has nothing to do with vending space, but vendors have areas which they themselves prefer to trade.”