By Itai Muzondo
MDC-T dominated Masvingo City Council recently dismissed the new provincial affairs minister, Shuvai Mahofa and ruling Zanu (PF) provincial chairman Paradzai Chakona’s address to vendors at Chitima market following demonstrations over council’s refusal to reduce daily operational fees.
Mayor Hubert Fidze disclosed in a statement issued to Masvingo Residents Trust that it was not a noble idea to reduce tariffs as that would disturb their proposed budget to which the ratepayers agreed to in the beginning of 2015. He further denied having received any communication from the minister and Zanu (PF) leadership pleading on behalf of the vendors for the council to reduce the tariffs.
“It is funny and not justified at all that we reduce vendor tariffs because someone has voiced. This would definitely disturb the resident-driven budget which stipulated that vendors at Chitima market should pay two dollars per day for their vending stands.
“I have not received any formal communication from Mahofa, Chakona or Shumba regarding the situation at Chitima so we are not aware of their intention,” said Mayor Fidze.
In a telephone interview, Fidze further added that they have agreed as council that they will not be moved on the current revenue being paid recently at the market.
“We have sat as council after the violence which transpired at the market and have decided with other councillors that we will maintain the two US dollars tarrif as stipulated in our budget,” added Fidze.
Mahofa and Chakona on Tuesday addressed vendors at Chitima market promising them they will have their daily tariffs reduced to $1 by end of month.
“We will have your stalls open and never closed again and we will intervene so that we see to it that council reduces tariffs to US$1 by end of month,” said Shuvai Mahofa during her address to the vendors.
Chakona however maintained that first preference when they win their battle with council over the issue will be given to people who are registered with Zanu (PF) in their cells.
“You must also remember that this battle to emancipate you from councils’ hefty terrifs is being handled by Zanu (PF) party cadres. I therefore urge you all that you go and register with the party in your cells so that you get first preference in getting cheap stall the day we win our battle against Council,” said Chakona.
Meanwhile, Masvingo Urban member of Parliament Daniel Shumba and director of National Vendors Union in Zimbabwe Samuel Wadzai have attacked Masvingo City Council (MCC) over the chaotic situation at the Chitima market due to its location which is adjacent to railway line.
Shumba said the MDC-T dominated council was ignoring vendors who are ‘genuinely pleading the slashing of daily tax which they pay to the local authority’.
“This MDC council is anti-development. I know they want to turn this city into an ungovernable community. We are going to stop them. I am sure the MDC guys will enjoy seeing Masvingo in shambles but we will swiftly chip in to immediately stop the rot,” said Shumba.
Wadzai said that it was gross human rights abuse for the police to harass and arrest vendors who were peacefully expressing their views.
“We condemn the police for interfering with council business. As a union, we still feel that the council should reduce the tax to R5. Where can a vendor get $2 to pay on daily basis? There might be infrastructure development but that should not invite exorbitant tariffs,” said Wadzai.
Recent reports indicate that Masvingo City Council denied a ministerial plea to have resident’s water reconnected which they had cut over debts.
During the demonstrations the police arrested six Masvingo Residents Trust members who were part of vendors who protested against paying $2 on daily basis. Prosper Tiringindi, Godfrey Mudhumo, Mapfumo Mativenga, Tarwirei Chisikandieyi, Richard Mapedza and Jesina Gwabvira spent the whole day on Monday in the police cells at Masvingo Central police station upon paying $10 fine each before they were released.