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Hwange informal traders seek to address the blurred line of authority

Informal traders in the coal mining town of Hwange are faced with a dilemma of who their regulator is as the Rural District Council and the Hwange Colliery Company are seen to be competing for the same role. Traders are paying rates to the both entities and they both seek to regulate and control how informal traders carry out their businesses in the town.

Informal traders who were trained by Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) as Community Based Advocacy Teams (COMBAT) on Advocacy under the Vendors Accountability Laboratories and Voices Enhancement (VALVE) Project identified Hwange Rural District Council and the Colliery Company as important stakeholders which they have to engage with to address challenges faced by informal traders with most emanating from the blurred roles. In a training meeting on Constitutional Rights Awareness conducted by BVTA, traders highlighted that they have to get the stakeholders to the talking table with them and address the issue on who has authority and where. Traders also noted that it is possible for them and all the parties involved to work together as they constantly talk and address the issues that come hence creating a win-win situation for everyone.

Hwange traders who are still in the process of formalising their association hinted that part of the talks with the stakeholders would be centred on the formulation of an informal traders By-law which will address the double roles played by the stakeholders. Other stakeholders which own land in Hwange like Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority and National Railways of Zimbabwe would be involved in the talks even though these are not antagonistic like the Colliery Company. Traders also noted that if private land owners want traders to pay rates to them, at least the fees should be reasonable and not exorbitant like what they are charging now. Christabel Kadyamusuma also noted that informal traders would like to attain their vending licences issued by the District Administrator’s office which is close by rather than the Rural District Council offices which are far away.

Siphetheni Nkiwane an informal trader who trades from the bus rank stated that their previous advocacy efforts like the engagement with the Rural District Council on the reduction of vending licenses from $120 to $30 have taught them to be strategic in bringing forward their issues and identifying the stakeholders to engage with. Hwange informal traders trust what they learnt under the VALVE Project and their practical advocacy experiences will come in handy in their talks with the stakeholders on issues of regulation.

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