MUTARE businesses have threatened to stage a protest against the city council for failing to control vendors who are undermining their operations by brazenly besieging and trading from shop fronts.
Most pavements in the eastern border city have become impassable as the number of vendors continues to surge due to the country’s economic meltdown and consequent company closures.
Local business people, especially those in the retail and clothing sector, have complained that they are not being protected from the influx yet they were paying tax and shop licenses to the local authority.
In interviews with New Zimbabwe.com, shop owners said the vendors were pushing them out of business because they could afford to charge very low prices for their goods since they do not pay rent and taxes.
Brian Chasara, who runs an electrical shop in the city, said the street vendors were selling the same products at half price right on his door step.
“It’s not fair because I pay rent and wages but council is leaving vendors on my door steps. If I fail to renew my licence they will punish me heavily. It’s better to close shop and retrench my workers,” said Chasara.
Another businessman, Luckson Mwayera, who is into transport said he has five registered taxis but was not making money because council traffic cops were demanding bribes while allowing pirate taxis to operate in the city.
“I pay tax and I have all the papers required to run a transport business but council traffic cops are taking bribes and allowing pirates to operate freely in the city.
“We are being pushed out of the business and the only choice is to stage a demonstration to register our displeasure,” said Mwayera.
Mutare Town Clerk, Obert Muzavazi, said council was aware of the increasing number of street vendors.
He attributed the development to the country’s high unemployment rate and economic meltdown.
“We are aware that business people are being frustrated by the increasing number of vendors selling goods similar on their door steps,” said Muzawazi.
“There is no need for business owners to demonstrate because the issue is being looked into. It cannot be solved overnight.”
He said some vendors on the streets were actually given market places by council but were shunning such places preferring to be in the streets.
However, provincial Affairs minister for Manicaland, Mandi Chimene defended the vendors, saying they should stay put until she discussed the matter with council officials.
“We cannot just chase vendors off the streets until we meet with council officials to find a solution to the problem,” said Chimene.