Bulawayo Vendors Protest After Eviction from Fifth Avenue Stalls

ZANU PF-Linked 'Space Barons' Challenge Bulawayo City Council Actions

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe

Tensions erupted in Bulawayo as protesters led by ZANU PF-affiliated “space barons” demonstrated against the city council and Mayor David Coltart. These people were evicted from Fifth Avenue, which the Bulawayo City Council had temporarily blocked off for renovations, which set off the protest. In order to legitimize and organize street vending in the community, the council intends to build 500 new vending bays.

The demonstrators, dubbed “space barons,” had previously seized control of Fifth Avenue in 2022, denying ZANU PF members exclusive hawking spots and collecting weekly payments from the vendors. The central business district (CBD) experienced severe interruptions as a result of this unlawful allocation, which resulted in traffic jams and made sections of the region inaccessible.

The parties who were displaced and angry over the council’s lack of information about when they may go back to their vending sites staged a protest on Thursday, marching to Fifth Avenue and then on to City Hall. The demonstrators claim that because they have been unable to conduct business for the last three months, their livelihoods have been badly harmed.

A representative for the Indigenization Vendors, Sawu Jere, stressed that they are prepared to start up again at their assigned vending locations. “We met with the city council to discuss the problem of vending bay allocation in the central business district,” Jere said. “Everything that the local government asked was submitted by every vendor. It has now been three months.”

Concerns about the wider social and economic implications of their relocation were voiced by another vendor, who said, “We are the ZANU PF children who registered for those vending ports. Since we are the merchants who belong there, what will we sell now that they have taken our merchandise away? Since the schools start next week, we need money for rent and school fees.”

Town Clerk Christopher Dube reaffirmed that vending port distribution has always been done openly and after consulting with every relevant party in response to the demonstrations and complaints. “All relevant sector associations came to a consensus and gave their selected names to BCC for vending port allocation. But today, some associations are asking to add names that were not previously decided.

“It is crucial to clarify that the City of Bulawayo is not directly distributing vending bays, but rather implementing the decisions taken during the discussions with stakeholders,” he said, providing more clarification on the city’s involvement and efforts to resolve the dispute. Dube added that the council is making every effort to accelerate the remaining bay allocations in accordance with the agreements made with vendor organizations, noting that 419 of the 576 planned bays have already been assigned.

You may also like

white logo with motto

The Zimbabwe Advocate is more than just a news outlet. We are a movement, a symbol of resistance against misinformation.

Latest News

© 2024 The Zimbabwe Advocate. All Rights Reserved.