Sunday Mail Reporter
MARKET stall operators at the Borrowdale Race Course Old Stables Market have petitioned the Harare City Council asking for permission to continue operating while they put in place measures to comply with the city’s public health by-laws.
Council recently shut down the popular weekend market citing its failure to meet the city’s health standards and Covid-19 prevention protocols.
In a petition addressed to Harare acting mayor councillor Stuart Mutizwa and city director of health, Dr Prosper Chonzi, the market stall operators said shutting the Old Stables Market would affect the livelihoods of scores of people.
“The Old Stables Market, located at the Borrowdale Racecourse, is providing a livelihood to a large number of vendors, with many more downstream jobs having been created and now reliant on the vendors’ ability to trade their wares,” reads the petition.
For over a year, the market has proved highly popular as a healthy, open-air shopping environment, with strict adherence to the public health order (Covid-19) regulations.
“Therefore, we the undersigned residents of Harare and environs, appeal to your good selves to: provide a written list of city health requirements that the Old Stables Market is still to meet in order to be fully compliant; allow the Old Stables Market to operate while it works to comply with City of Harare requirements; and in the meantime, to treat the Old Stables Market on equal terms with other markets with similar activities that are freely operating in Harare.”
A representative of vendors at the market, Mrs Vicky Ann Bowen, accused council of being vindictive.
“We are being frustrated by the city, to be honest, and we are not getting any communication from them,” said Mrs Bowen.
“We have asked for a list of things that they need us to do for us to be compliant but they keep on cancelling meetings and referring us from one office to another.
“We have all the paperwork required, so we don’t understand why we are being treated like this.”
She said Harare had asked the vendors to apply for a change of the market’s land use category, a process that can take between 12-18 months.
Cllr Mutizwa said he would not approve the re-opening of the market unless it complies with city regulations.
“The matter was brought before my office and what I can say is, I will not authorise a parallel process because that is against the law,” he said.
“I do not want to be seen as abusing the office, so proper procedures have to be followed. I am not saying the market should not be allowed to open but it must do so in compliance with the law.
“We know it is a lucrative market and we want it to thrive.”