By Helen Kadirire
HARARE City Council is set to engage the youth leadership of the country’s major political parties as it now contemplates the reopening of the country’s oldest flea market Mupedzanhamo.
According to small to medium enterprise committee minutes, the market has been closed since March last year following the Covid-19 outbreak that has seen more than 4 000 people die.
Mupedzanhamo which is situated in Mbare high density suburb has been contentious as youths from both Zanu PF PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have been vying for control over it.
“Re-opening of Mupedzanhamo flea market was now long overdue and the community services department was proposing measures to address the situation as follows: engagement of political leadership at higher level and engagement of Joint Operation Command (JOC) and Council’s enforcement team to assist council in the restoration of order at the market,” the minutes said.
They also mentioned that only stallholders with fully paid up accounts would be allowed entry and occupation of the market stalls.
Council stated in the minutes that it would repossess all stalls that would be sub-let as well as those in arrears.
Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) executive director Samuel Wadzai said it was time that the market opened as many people relied on the informal sector for survival.
He said the Mbare musika market which is also an informal market had been opened and all stallholders were adhering to all Covid-19 protocols set out by government and council.
“We are well aware that the informal sector has for long been an area that political parties want to control because it is the chief money maker in the country. However, they should understand that people only want a way to survive and not be forced to into politics- it should be by choice. Those leaders who council will engage must hear out the informal sector and be willing to understand and live by the choices they make if we are to move forward,” Wadzai said.
Harare’s informal markets have been largely politicised with council failing to control some of the areas.
In recent years, council has admitted to not being able to collect any fees from some of the markets as doing so would turn violent.