Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) notes remarks by Harare Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Mr. Tafadzwa Muguti in a local daily newspaper where he issued a 7-day ultimatum on businesses he described as acting outside the law in Harare Metropolitan province.
Whilst VISET holds no brief for anyone operating outside the laws of the country, we are particularly drawn to Mr. Muguti’s claim that as much as USD 250 000 a day is being pocketed by space barons in highly populated market areas such as Mbare Musika, Glen View market and Mupedzanhamo. It is a fact that our membership are the ones who are victims of these space barons who are fleeced on a daily basis in collusion with corrupt council officials and political party players.
We have in actual fact, constantly spoken on the need to transform the manner in which business is conducted in particular at Mbare Musika, advocating for decongestion through decentralization of markets and even better management systems at Mbare Farmers Market in order to safeguard traders from unscrupulous middlemen better known in local parlance as Makoronyera, but to no avail.
Mupedzanhamo has been closed since 2020, ostensibly as a part of COVID-19 containment strategies, but to date it remains closed with certain space barons collecting daily trading fees from those selling on the perimeter wall of the market. These space barons are said to openly work in concert with corrupt District Council officials.
We would want to urge Mr. Muguti to first of all ensure the immediate cessation of the operations of these barons who are in essence criminals, and the reopening of markets such as Mupedzanhamo, before the blitz he has spoken to is embarked upon. Time and again, we have seen these space barons walk free whilst Informal Traders suffer demolitions, and this must be stopped, and prosecution of these space barons must happen if government is sincere in ensuring that we all have equality at law. Council must also enact measures that ensure there is adequate market space in sought after areas like Mbare and to that end we still await construction at Shawasha grounds which has long been promised.
Lastly, we hope that Mr. Muguti will desist from applying a hammer approach to his way of dealing with issues and that he adopts a collaborative spirit with Informal Economy actors in keeping with the Formalisation strategy being spearheaded by the Ministry of Public Service and Social Welfare.
Threats and ultimatums have no place in an aspiring middle income earning economy!