Blantyre City Council on Monday night demolished structures for vendors in Limbe town specifically for those who ply their trade in areas deemed illegal for vending.
Vendors plying their trade in the demolished stalls reacted with shock when they reported for the days’ business and more police officers were deployed within the city with some vendors visibly angry at the development.
Notices have been made by Blantyre City Council advising all vendors plying their trade along the streets and in other undesignated markets to immediately stop trading and move into the nearby designated markets and the order was expected to be effected at midnight of Friday, September 18, 2020.
“Failure to voluntarily vacate the streets by the given deadline shall compel the Council to use lawful means of forcing them out,” said the notice.
“Residents and members of the public are hereby asked to stop buying from street vendors so that together we can stop the malpractice.
“The Council is also asking people who erected structures along roads and other areas without Council approval to immediately take down those structures [as] the Council is embarking on an exercise to demolish all illegal structures.”
The council has since advised the concerned vendors to find spaces at the designated market.
Meanwhile, Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Dunstain Mwaungulu is in agreement with the move by the council but contends that the exercise should also target motor vehicles sellers on open grounds by requiring that they should have trading licences as well importing licences.
He also said importers of whatever amount or goods should get a Malawi Revenue Authority taxpayer identification number (TPIN) detailing the type of goods imported.
Justice Mwaungulu suggests that the City Council should open up the Chikwawa road area between Stella Marris and Mpemba to build modern day shops for medium and large businesses for renting.
Mwaungulu says the targeted clientele should not be based racism or discrimination but to target indigenous Malawians; indigenous mixed Asian and Caucasion.
“Limbe is essentially Asian shopping area where they even impose strict drinking and pork conditions for rent to companies and African small businesses,” says Mwaungulu.
“Blantyre is 75% Caucasian and 25% Asian. There are dots and dots of Press Corporation and former MDC investment because, in the absence of viable African entrepreneurship, Kamuzu’s policy was to share the business through statutory corporation and private entity — Press Corporation.
“Kamuzu’s policy was not to nationalise but to accommodate indigenous African business competition with the dominant Asian and Caucasian business.
“That policy vanished when politically and unconstitutionally the government passed the Press Trust Reconstruction Act on poor advice on property rights in the Press Corporation or Press Trust.”
He further contends that the City Council, through its Town Planning Authority and Quinqilinil Courts — using its legislative powers and judicial powers — should declare from now on that it will not allow new constructions on the Chipembere Highway and other important streets there for business premises of less than 5 stories.
He said the City Council should give those already on these streets five years to comply and After 5 years, the Central Government can use the Compulsory Acquisition Act.
Meanwhile, there have been mixed reactions to the decision to remove the vendors from the streets as others believe that with the high rate of unemployment, the authorities should have first invested in better markets.
Otherwise, other schools of thought believe, can escalate strong resistance that can lead to mass demonstrations and also create a political bomb for the future.
In his comment on Facebook, Lovemore Kaunga said there is the need remove them to preserve some decency on the cities but there should be a deliberate move to create proper space to accommodate them.
“Removing should not mean killing their businesses, no! The core purpose of vending is to sustain livelihood so do not push them out just for the sake of doing so.
“They are where they are because they have nowhere else to go. So government should find space for them first and move them. This is my understanding,” he said.
Social commentator Idriss Ali Nassah cried for Blantyre which was once one of the cleanest cities in Africa, but not any more.
“Today, street vendors are everywhere; you step out of Topman into a pavement full of tomatoes, fresh and dried fish and, even, a man sitting over a mbaula roasting fresh maize for sale.
“The downtown is rundown. Rubbish lies uncollected for days on end, vehicles are left parked anyhow and minibus drivers and their attendant call-boys are a menacing law unto themselves.
“Added to this is the new nuisance of Sienta vehicles — now used as public transport — that have appropriated for themselves portions of the street at Nandos, across the road at Mt Soche Hotel, near First Capital Bank and at several other places.
“These rogues now effectively own and run the streets, while those with the power to bring law and order unto the streets pretend that they are powerless to do anything about it. It’s a free for all.”
He concluded that cleaning up the city streets will not be easy and the solution won’t be simple, but it has to be done and “if nothing is done now, Malawi will be left counting the cost of lawlessness, decay and disfunction for years to come”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :