By Ivan Zhakata and Rudo Muchedzi
Most vendors operating from illegal structures in Harare’s southern suburbs were yesterday left counting their losses after council employees descended on them as part of efforts to rid the city of such structures.
Harare City Council, which recently obtained a court order to destroy all illegal structures in the city, last week embarked on a clean-up of the city starting with the western suburbs.
Yesterday, council employees destroyed wooden cabins at Zindoga Shopping Centre before proceeding along Masotsha Ndhlovu Way on their way to Sunningdale.
The affected vendors accused the council of being selective after some structures allegedly belonging to foreign nationals were spared.
Fistfights broke out as the vendors turned on those whose properties were not destroyed accusing them of having a hand in the destruction of their structures in a bid to get rid of competition.
One of the vendors who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “I heard the municipal police demanding bribes from the Congolese and Rwandese and I even saw them receiving money from those people.
“This is corruption. We are not going anywhere. It’s business as usual. As soon as they leave I am going to rebuild my tuckshop.”
Another trader, Petros Mokwena, said they were shocked to see council coming to destroy their businesses as they were never given notices of eviction. “They did not respond to my question when I inquired why they did not demolish the other tuckshops and yet we are operating from the same place,’’ he said.
However, another vendor, Amanda Mujaji, admitted that council had served them with a notice a month ago, but they had ignored it.
“They gave us notice to vacate this area sometime ago but we refused to leave because they did not allocate us new places to conduct our business. I am a vegetable vendor here and I am earning a living through selling my vegetables. I do not know where to go from here,” she said.
Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said the exercise was ongoing and they will be demolishing more illegal properties across the city.
“The exercise is moving ahead as it is in line with our vision of creating a world-class city by the year 2025. Those people who have their structures demolished should apply for proper trading places and we will allocate them such spaces,” he said.
On council employees who were alleged to have received bribes to spare some structures, Mr Chideme said: “If there are any officers taking bribes people must report them (to us) and we will deal with them accordingly.” The Herald