Bulawayo residents fume over steep council fines

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Jeffrey Muvundusi
in BULAWAYO

RESIDENTS here have shot down proposals by the local authority to hike fines for alleged illegal vending and flouting other by-laws governing the operations of informal traders.

The proposal by the local authority comes at a time the greater part of the population in the city has in the last two decades been pushed into vending due to massive company closures and unemployment caused by the underperforming economy.

According to a leaked list of new fines for illegal vending and flouting the city’s Hawkers and Vendors by-laws Act, selling goods from an undesignated point now attracts a $400 fine, while selling without a licence attracts $500 and pushing carts in the CBD will cost $300, among other proposed fines.

The planned fines have, however, attracted the wrath of the vending community who feel they are unrealistic in light of the prevailing economic challenges.

“BCC must come up with realistic fines and measures considering that income levels for vendors and informal traders have been drastically reduced due to coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions that have curtailed trading,” said Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association coordinator Michael Ndiweni in a statement yesterday.

“BCC was supposed to engage associations on what measures can be employed to deal with some of these challenges that the fines seek to address.

“The enforcement approach is not always sustainable because vendors and informal traders will always find ways to avoid arrest, in the process fuelling corruption.”

Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni, however, said: “These are proposals that are yet to be ratified by the relevant council committees.”

When Covid-19 broke out a few months ago, the local authority was forced to ban vending in the central business district.

However, following the relaxation of lockdown restrictions vendors have been trickling back into the city in a development that has seen the police conducting constant raids.

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