Council, residents in showdown

SYDNEY SAIZE IN MUTARE

A major showdown is looming between Mutare City Council and residents following the local authority’s decision to convert Sakubva Beit Hall to a flea market for informal traders.

David Mutambirwa, the programmes director of the Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association said residents would oppose the move.

‘’It is a tragedy for the council to continue taking decisions which infringe on the people whom they purport to serve. Sakubva high density suburb was established in 1927 and the then administration saw it fit to build an entertainment centre to provide recreational facilities to the black population,’’ Mutambirwa told Business Times.

He added: “The city fathers should have extensively consulted rather than impose decisions on the community. My recommendation is that a proper inclusive consultation should be carried out before any decision is made.”

Mutare resident Edson Dube said he foresees a scenario where the move could be permanent although the council was claiming the move was temporary as a way to cushion informal traders during the Covid 19 lockdown.

“When we approached the council, they said the move is a temporary measure but we do not believe them. We realise that there are many areas where this flea market business could have been set up.

“As residents we have seen them taking over other Halls in Dangamvura, Chikanga among others and our question is where the youths will host themselves for entertainment. Where will their parents hold weddings, meetings and other social gatherings?”

Mutare City mayor Blessing Tandi said the halls would remain open as recreational facilities. “What we have done is to fence off sporting grounds to provisionally accommodate flea markets for informal traders to do business for a fee as means of raising funds for the council and them to make a living through trading in a safe environment,” Tandi said.

“We will continue to monitor the situation from time to time and revert to having the playing grounds re-opened to the community.”

Flea market operator, Dyson Mangenje, said he was grateful to the council saying the move was meant to assist many informal traders who had nowhere safe to operate from. They, Mangenje said, face daily challenges including running battles with the police.

“It is a welcome development as we are going to have a decent place from which we will do business away from harassment from law enforcement agents.

“We applaud the city fathers for hearing our plight since we faced daily challenges operating from undesignated zones in town and from our homes,” Mangenje said.

Since the outset of the lockdown induced by the Covid 19, some informal traders who are into selling second hand clothing have been having a torrid time playing hide and seek with law enforcement agents as they were doing business from unsanctioned areas in high residential suburbs and in the central business district.

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