Harare Street Vendors Rally Against CBD Vending Ban

May 1, 2024
Heads clash over street vendor ban in Harare | Report Focus News
Heads clash over street vendor ban in Harare

Harare is on a collision course with street vendors as it unveils new regulations to prohibit vending in the central business district (CBD). Informal traders are gearing up for a battle, alleging that authorities are out of touch with the economic realities that drive many people to street vending for their livelihoods. The recently announced by-laws stipulate that informal traders cannot sell goods or foodstuffs in the CBD without a valid permit or lease agreement. Additionally, the use of pushcarts, known as zvingoro, at popular informal trading sites like Magaba, Mupedzanhamo, and Mbare Musika bus terminus, has been banned.

Samuel Wadzai, Executive Director of the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation, criticized the harshness of the new regulations on those dependent on vending to survive. He emphasized that in the current economic climate, outlawing vending could have severe negative repercussions on the majority who rely on it for their livelihoods.

While expressing the need for by-laws that are more humane and aligned with the country’s economic realities, Wadzai pledged to engage with the council to propose solutions that protect people’s livelihoods. Wisborn Malaya, representing vendors, lamented the lack of consultation in the formulation of these laws, highlighting the need for strategic planning to designate specific areas for vending to ensure order and compliance.

Malaya argued that eradicating informal trading, particularly in a country with high unemployment, would be futile and counterproductive. He advocated for smarter regulation rather than harsh restrictions, emphasizing that street vending serves as both a source of employment and essential food distribution.

In addition to the Harare street vendors ban, the council’s by-laws address noise pollution, prohibiting practices such as the use of loudspeakers and loud music by shops and informal traders for advertising purposes.