Vendors in Hwange have petitioned the Hwange Rural District Council (HRDC) to reverse a recent unilateral hike in vending license fees.
The vendors, who are members of the Hwange Vendors and Traders Association (HVTA), say the local authority effected a 217 per cent hike in vending licence fees without consulting them.
This means that vendors now pay US$114 from the US$36 charged last year. HVTA wrote to the local authority on 24 February pleading for the adjustment to be reconsidered.
Speaking during an interview with CITE, HVTA spokesperson, Elton Mguni, said that the HRDC never consults them before announcing new fees. He said:
As an association standing for vendors, we saw it fit to engage other stakeholders and together with Greater Whange Residents Trust we jointly authored a letter of objection to the council registering our concern over the hike in vending licenses.
We appealed to HRDC to review downwards or revert to the US$36 even though we still feel it’s too high.
The problem is that as stakeholders we are not engaged or invited to budget meetings.
It’s like they impose these increases on us, even knowledge of the criteria used to arrive or justify the rates is unknown.
Mguni said the vendors were still to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic characterised by lockdowns which restricted their activities.
Greater Whange Residents Trust described the new fees as “illogical” arguing that the HRDC had no mandate to collect revenue in areas under the Hwange Local Board’s jurisdiction. Said Chima:
GWRT is vehemently opposed to the hiking of the vending licence fee from USD36 to USD114.
Vendors were hard hit by Covid 19 lockdown restrictions and the hiking of fees defies logic by the rural council.
We are also going to challenge the legality of HRDC to collect revenue in wards that fall under Hwange Local Board.
Most vendors fall under Hwange Local Board jurisdiction but surprisingly they are forced to pay license fees to RDC.
Vendors have never been consulted by RDC and the only time RDC remembers them is when they will be with law enforcement officers demanding license fees.
When contacted for a comment by CITE, HRDC chief executive officer, Phindile Ncube, said he was yet to see the letter.