CHIREDZI– An engagement meeting between Chiredzi Town Council and Chiredzi vendors ended in a deadlock after vendors refused to pay sign lease agreement forms that had been approved by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.
The forms, which obligated the vendors to pay ZW$1920 per year are meant to formalise the informal business sector, TellZim News can report.
Chiredzi Town Council is currently shutting down market stalls as a way of forcing vendors to formalise their operations by signing the 2021 lease agreement forms.
Chiredzi Town Council Chairperson of Finance Committee, Rogers Chikonye said the fees were a result of the approved 2021 budget and cannot be reversed unless the vendors have requested for that permission from the minister.
Chikonye also said markets need renovations to avoid the spread of diseases and there is need to generate funds from markets rather than pumping out money from other utilities to fund the markets.
“These fees were approved after consultations which were made for the 2021 budget and approved by the Minister of Local government and we have no power to reverse such unless if our parent ministry instructs us to do so. Also the markets need renovations and that cannot be done using money from other utilities but rather should be financed by the markets themselves. There are also administration charges for the leases that is why it amounted to such a figure,” said Chikonye.
Chiredzi Town Council Chairperson Gibson Hwende also urged vendors to make the payment plan and spread it over in the period of six months.
“We are left with six months to complete this year and it is better to make a payment plan and spread it over the period of six months. You can later view the figures for the 2022 budget if you are saying this is too much,” said Hwende.
Vendors association chairperson Solomon Ndarowa said they are in disagreement on the payment of RTGS$1920.00 for lease agreement forms, which, in 2020, were offered for free and also payment of monthly market rates of RTGS$960.00 from the initial RTGS$330.00 which was pegged last year.
“We met with the council last year and agreed to formulate a lease agreement to formalise our operations, which the government is encouraging. We agreed that it will be free but unfortunately, this year we are being told that we have to pay RTGS$1920.00 to get the lease as well as RTGS$960.00 for monthly fees, which, last year we agreed to be RTGS$330.00,” said Ndarowa
Last year, vendors and Chiredzi Town Council agreed to enter into five year lease agreement which will be renewed on annual basis which the vendors believe is supposed to be free.
Sometime in 2020 Police Internal Security Intelligence (PISI) from Chiredzi Central Police Station reportedly had to intervene and called for vendors to peacefully engage the local authority.
However the resultant meeting yielded nothing as the situation went out of control with councillors shouting at vendors who in turn vowed to carry on with demonstrations.