Local Authority

Chitima vendors protest against council over ‘unfair’ treatment


MASVINGO-Vendors from Chitima Fruits and Vegetable market which has changed names depending on who holds the levers of power are up in arms against the City of Masvingo for alleged unfair treatment, on closing time and allocation of stalls.

The vegetable vendors are alleging that the City Council is discriminating against them in favour of grocery and beer sellers who have literally taken over the age old market.

They say they are now failing to sustain themselves from the meagre earnings they are getting from their daily sales which have been affected by the new vendors.

Vendors at City Masvingo City Council.

The sales, they allege are now being negatively affected due to limited time they are being given to sell their stuff, from 5am to 11am.

The protest attracted tens of vendors today (July 3, 2024) in the afternoon as the vendors walked from Chitima Vegetable Market to the City of Masvingo Council offices to present their petition to management.

 The vendors were represented by their secretary, Georgina Bhendembe, committee member Shylet Maushe and secretary for security, Mercy Dzongodza.

City of Masvingo Town Clerk Eng Edward Mukaratirwa said the correct position is that, the market should open at 4am until 1130am for farmer in order to allow the retailors to sell to the consumers instead of the wholesalers selling directly to the consumers.

Edmore Mangezi, a vendor at Chitima revealed that Council officials visited them yesterday and much to their shock declared that vendors must be scaled down for health reasons, but he said they are not giving up without a fight.

He added that they are willing to engage the local authority in a constructive manner for a win, win solution.

 “This market is specifically for green vegetables but they are now taking in groceries and liquor while driving us out, in clear violation of the standing statutes,” he added.

 “We demand that the council relocate the grocery, liquor and clothing businesses to the appropriate shops in town and let us continue to sell our produce in peace,” said Mercy Dzongodza.

One of the vendors Shylet Maushe told The Midweek Watch that the council informed the vendors that the market place will be closed at 11:30am daily and nothing must be left in the market place, implying that they have to ferry their unsold goods out of the market and bring them back the following morning.

She said this is impossible as they have nowhere to safe keep their left overs.

After 1130hrs, vendors are left with nowhere to store their products, and if they attempt to display them outside the designated area, they risk having their goods confiscated by the council at night, she said.

The lack of designated storage space or alternative selling points is affecting their operations hence they decided to take their grievances to the responsible authorities.

“Our livelihoods depend on selling in this market, we send our children to school through this trade so, if we are forced to stop, our lives are doomed,” said Lizzy Zisengwe.

Some vendors said they are prepared to pay the daily storage fee of US$3 for council to allow them back.

Betty Marazanya said, “We are not just small scale vendors anymore, we are growing and doing very well, it’s time for the council to recognize our contributions and treat us as major players in the fruit and vegetable market.”

The vendors said if they are hindered from operating smoothly this may unfortunately result in a surge in criminal activities due to idleness by the youth who are employed at the popular market.

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