By Judith Sibanda
Victoria Falls, March 09, 2016 – COUNCIL has vowed to clampdown an influx of Zambian traders in the resort town amid complaints by locals that they do not respect the local authority’s bylaws.
Zambian informal traders are taking advantage of Zimbabwe’s multi-currency system to bring in various goods for resale in Victoria Falls.
The goods include illegal substances such as abortion pills, skin bleaching creams, toiletries and herbal medicine.
However, their aggressive marketing methods that include door to door vending have angered local vendors who say they are being pushed out of business.
Council said it was also concerned about the number of complaints it was receiving about the conduct of the Zambians and it would soon act to bring sanity in the resort town.
Some vendors at the Chinotimba Tavern Market said Zambians were making a lot of money through their door to door sales, which were a violation of council’s bylaws.
“The Zambians don’t pay anything to council but they are allowed to sell their wares anywhere,” said one of the vendors Sethule Dube.
“They violate a number of bylaws and in addition to that, they don’t pay duty at the border when bringing their items like we do.”
Dube said vendors at the market paid $15 as rentals to council and a number of them could no longer afford to pay because Zambian traders were taking away all the business.
Another vendor from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) market in the resort town, Israel Zhou said the Zambians appeared to be above the law in Victoria Falls.
“They bring their merchandise using bicycles and by law their loads should not be more than 40 kilogrammes but they often exceed that,” Zhou said. “Their wares sell fast because they can operate from anywhere they want whilst we are confined to the markets.
“We will soon take the law into our hands if the authorities do not intervene.”
He claimed most of the Zambian traders brought illegal goods but were not being arrested.
“They bring illegal creams, pills, soaps and injections into the country and sell to people especially ladies,” Zhou said, adding that some locals were also now being forced to join the illicit trade.
Malubwa Mwenya, a Zambian trader said there was a ready market for skin bleaching creams and hip enlargement pills in Victoria Falls.
“Our friends like buying from us, especially skin bleaching creams, abortion pills and hip enlargement pills,” she said.
“The market is good here because we don’t pay any tax and Zimbabwean authorities are not tough at the border.”
She said Zambians bought cooking oil and Mazowe Orange Crush for resale back home. The Zambians are given temporary gate passes to visit Zimbabwe to conduct business.
Meanwhile, Victoria Falls town clerk, Christopher Dube said council had discussed the activities of Zambian traders this week and resolved to take tough action against those found violating the law.
“The allegations (about Zambian traders violating bylaws) are true,” Dube told RadioVOP.
“The Zambians are so stubborn and despite various council raids against them, they never stop.
“We gave them a specific area where they can sell their goods at Chinotimba Tavern Market on condition that the things are not sold in bulk.
“However, they don’t want to stick to the rules. This issue was discussed this morning (Monday) because it is now too much.
“We cannot chase them away because they are our neighbours and we rely on them in times of food shortages.
“But we still want them to respect the existing laws.”
A number of Zimbabweans have turned into vending due to the deteriorating economic situation in the country that has left thousands without jobs.