At least 20 vendors operating along the busy streets near the Francistown bus rank besieged Francistown East constituency offices seeking the intervention of Member of Parliament (MP) Honest Buti Billy.
The informal traders wanted the former councilor to rein in on the “errant” City of Francistown leadership and council officers whom they say were harassing them thereby disturbing them to freely operate their respective small businesses.
This is after council officers confiscated their structures and tables which they use to display their wares when selling during the day.
The disgruntled vendors, mainly composed of the youths, described the council officers as “unruly and harsh” arguing that they (vendors) were constantly being harassed by the bylaw officers.
All this is happening despite the fact that the City of Francistown has failed to provide them with a designated place or building where they can store their stuff upon knocking off every day, vendors complained.
When approached for comment, Billy confirmed that the vendors thronged his constituency offices last Monday seeking his intervention.
While Billy admits that the structures used by vendors can be an eyesore, he is of the belief that the council is wrong to confiscate the vendors’ tables and shed structures.
“The council is wrong. We did not provide where vendors can store their structures overnight,” said Billy, adding that the council should turn one of the buildings at the bus rank into a storeroom.
According to Billy, there should be a cordial working relationship between council and vendors.
“These vendors are licensed to be operating wherever they are working from. We recognise the informal sector because it is playing a pivotal role in growing the economy of the City of Francistown,” said Billy.
Keolopile Mudongo, one of the youthful vendors who thronged the MP’s office, told this publication that she has resorted to vending because there are no employment opportunities in Francistown.
“I took this decision of becoming a vendor in order to lessen the burden of destitution on the council,” said Mudongo. She said the council should appreciate the role played by vendors rather than fighting them.
“The council is fighting us and does not want to see us growing. This is despite the fact that the informal sector drives the economy of most countries across the globe,” said Mudongo, adding that the council should help them by providing structures that are permanent.
Another vendor said the city council is failing to appreciate the contribution being made by vendors in reducing unemployment levels in the country. She said the council must encourage vending as it is a major drive of any economy
Israel Lebuile, the City of Francistown clerk said as much as the council appreciates the role played by vendors, at times the city is being slowly left jumbled. He urged vendors to desist from leaving their stuff strewn all over the city.