Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) is outraged at a memo currently in circulation allegedly emanating from the office of the Acting Town Clerk of the City of Harare, entitled “Operation Clean up Harare.”
Over successive years, we as informal traders have been subjected to numerous versions of these clean-up operations, starting with the most brutal and inhumane of them all, Operation Murambatsvina in 2005.
What we find mindboggling as an association, is how the City continues to do the same thing over and over expecting different results, we hope it is not indicative of an affliction that affects duty bearers whenever they enter the Town House.
The contents of the memo should be shameful to the authors, in that, in a day and age when we have a new national Constitution of 2013, we have office bearers unashamedly quoting 1979 Statutory Instruments! All this when we are just 6 days shy of celebrating 42 years of Independence!
Secondly, the memo instructs the Transport Manager to avail fuel to the District Officer for the implementation of the exercise, yet we are informed ad nauseam that the City does not have enough fuel to undertake regular refuse collection.
We cannot overstate our position that these operations will never yield the desired outcomes and are a mere waste of time and resources, whilst posing significant danger for traders and potential loss of wares unnecessarily.
VISET believes the answer to the issue lies in proper devolution that grants power to local authorities to be able to fully allocate marketplaces, this will take care of the evil of space barons. The other remedy is that there is need for an overhaul of the municipal bylaws currently in existence and the accompanying statutory instruments. The nature of the economy has long transformed, which is why government is now pursuing formalisation; it is from the realisation that the Informal Economy generates over 68 percent of the national GDP and that over 87 percent of jobs are in the sector.
We call on the City, Local Government Ministry and indeed the entire Government of Zimbabwe to review and analyse the past actions undertaken against the Informal Economy and see whether this has resulted in any positive changes.
As an organisation, along with other stakeholders in the Informal Economy, we have been a part of the formalisation process by government, believing this to signify a new way of relating with each other, but this latest move by the City of Harare leaves us asking many questions.