Harare City Council (HCC) recently announced that it will be demolishing tuckshops erected at undesignated sites in Mbare amid reports that most of them are owned by Congolese nationals.
The local government has given the owners of the tuckshops until the 18th of February to remove their structures.
HCC communications manager Michael Chideme, however, said the planned demolitions must not be mistaken for xenophobic attacks. He said:
There in one interesting thing happening which is the mushrooming of tuckshops, especially in Mbare and other suburbs. The city has since advised the operators of those illegal tuckshops to move out and let the land revert to its original use.
But very interestingly on the tuckshops, if you go to Mbare you notice the majority of the operators are not Zimbabwean citizens. So when people make an outcry ‘you are removing tuckshops during this time (of the Covid-19 pandemic), how do you want people to live…
Underlying that is people who are operating those tuckshops, the majority are Congolese and they don’t have regard for our by-laws. We have to look into that together with our vendors’ associations to see whether it is our people who are benefitting or foreigners.
But we have to do it in such a manner that does not promote xenophobia but in such a way that promotes nation building.
The planned demolition exercise comes after the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) had given Harare a 10-day ultimatum to clear undesignated dumpsites.
Last year, the local authority razed down illegal tuckshops around the capital as a way to bring order.
Finance experts always argue that local authorities are losing out on potential revenue as the informal sector is hard to tax.