BULAWAYO – The Bulawayo City Council and vendors are up in arms with the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) for illegally selling its farm produce in the Central Business District (CBD).
Trucks from the ZPCS have been spotted in the CBD loaded with cabbages and other farm produce which was being hawked directly to the shoppers in the late hours.
Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) yesterday railed at the prison authority’s behaviour.
“We strongly condemn acts by ZPCS to invade vending spaces and sell cabbages in their official prisons trucks without getting approval from Bulawayo City Council,” the organisation’s coordinator Thabang Nare said in a statement.
“BVTA feels that this is short-changing vendors and informal traders who pay for their licences to the local authority.”
The organisation said while BVTA acknowledges the biting economic hardships in the country where citizens have turned into vending as a source of livelihood, “it is not a ticket to abuse council by-laws and have unfair advantage over vendors and informal traders who are paying for their vending licences”.
The city fathers described the incident as regrettable.
“We received the report last week,” Ward 1 councillor Mlandu Ncube said.
“It is disappointing to note that a government institution is the one that appears to be spearheading illegal vending when as council we are trying to address the challenge.
“All what it means is that this government does not respect the rule of law.”
Ncube added that the prison authority should follow proper channels in line with council by-laws if ever they entertain any hopes of continuing with vending business in the city. It is not clear where proceeds from the vending go.
ZPCS provincial public relations officer Matabeleland North Bothwell Bhosha said: “I haven’t received a complaint either from the vendors or city council in that regard.”