Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
GWERU City Council (GCC) employees in the Housing and Community Services department are allegedly demanding US$150 bribe from vendors desperate for stalls at the refurbished Kudzanayi long-distance bus terminus.
The new-look terminus can only accommodate 600 vendors yet there were more than 3 000 vendors operating at the terminus before it was closed for renovations last year.
There is therefore a very high demand for the stalls and this has seen employees demanding kickbacks from applicants.
The council is demanding a fee of rtgs$72 from applicants intending to occupy market stalls around the city.
Vendors who were operating at Kudzanayi long-distance bus terminus and Kombayi fresh produce markets complied with the directive to voluntarily move their wares to pave way for the renovation of the markets.
After that, the city council compiled a list of those who want to operate from the two markets as well as other stalls in suburbs such as Mkoba, Senga, Ascot and Mtapa.
Kudzanayi long-distance bus terminus will only accommodate buses, travellers and traders selling refreshments.
Those selling clothes and fresh produce will operate from Mtapa market.
Chronicle has been inundated with phone calls from vendors accusing council employees of corruption.
“I paid my rtgs$72 to be on the waiting list but now I hear they are demanding US$150 kickback and we want them exposed,” said Mrs Martha Nyoni a vendor from Mtapa suburb.
In an interview yesterday, Mayor Councillor Josiah Makombe said he had heard of the allegations of corruption against some council employees involved in the allocation of the vending stalls.
“I have heard the rumours and I am still waiting for names of the culprits because we don’t condone corruption as a local authority. If its true heads will roll,” he said.
Clr Makombe asked the affected vendors to use the whistle blowing method if they are afraid of being victimised.
“We have a vending stall waiting list for all markets. This means we have opened up space for vending stalls in Mkoba, Senga, Ascot, Mtapa, Kudzanayi and Kombayi market.
“However, first preference for vending stalls at the popular Kudzanayi and Kombayi market will be given to the old vendors, those who had licences. There were more than 3 000 vendors at the old Kudzanayi bus terminus but only 600 were paying rent to council,” he said.
Clr Makombe said after renovations, Kudzanayi, Mtapa, Wimpy and Kombayi fresh produce markets will accommodate more than 4 000 vendors.
Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister Larry Mavima who is also the chairperson of the provincial Covid-19 taskforce toured the market places in the Central Business District to check on progress.
“This is the beginning of bigger things to come for the vendors and council. We need to move with the times and it is time to implement the smart city concept,” he said.
The chairperson of Gweru Traders Association Mr Everest Mbenjani said they were working with the local authority to bring sanity to the city.