Alexio Mudzengerere is the Chair of Grassroots Empowerment Flea Markets and Vendors’ Trust Association. They have been mentioned as a possible successor to Chipangano, and have been active and provided information on the formalisation of the SME sector, smuggled bales of clothing, and CoH vendors levies.

Personal Details

No information could be found on his age, place of birth, or family.

School / Education

No information could be found on his Junior or High School, or any tertiary education.

Events

Since the introduction of the multi-currency regime in 2009, competition with cheap imports has been a major dilemma for local entrepreneurs, it was reported in November 2014. Cheap imports from South Africa and China, which have run many out of business, especially those who were renting shops. Crispen Mukarakate, an economist, said under such a scenario, formal entrepreneurs were forced to develop new marketing strategies. Operating a shop or a boutique comes with ‘unnecessary’ overheads of rentals and high utility bills in the Central Business District, so most now opt on cutting overheads and look for clients on the streets. This was also due to the massive retrenchment and dearth of the country’s manufacturing sector.
According to the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operatives Development, Sithembiso Nyoni, more than $7,4 billion not benefiting the fiscus was circulating in the informal sector. A report by the FinScope Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Zimbabwe Survey Report of 2012 revealed that 85 percent of the MSMEs in the country were not registered. In May, Cabinet tabled and approved the Second MSME Policy Framework (2014-2018) which is expected to introduce comprehensive measures to support the sector.
The Grassroots Empowerment Flea Market and Vending Association Trust chairman, Mr Alexio Mudzengerere, said hawkers were not lawless, but were being forced to be on the streets because of the economic situation, even if it meant playing the cat-and-mouse with authorities. “With the system put in place by Harare City Council, at least people are no longer losing money and goods to corrupt officers and can now conduct business freely. This will definitely work for all of us,” The individual flea market operators now pay $2 daily for trading space, while fruit and vegetable traders and other vendors selling goods like dried foods, airtime and newspapers pay US$1. Harare City Council spokesperson Leslie Gwindi said the move was in the interest of the city, given the sharp rise in entrepreneurs and hawkers in Harare.
According to the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe in its book ‘‘Beyond the Enclave’’, Zimbabwe’s budget has in the past focused too much on the formal sector and has not been employment oriented. [1]

Factional purges in Zanu PF, from mid-2014 to June 2015, have removed Amos Midzi (since deceased) and Tendai Savanhu. They, along with Jim Kunaka, Godwin Gomwe and the likes of Alexio Mudzengerere, allegedly presided over a reign of terror. Mudzengerere is now chairman of the previously unknown Zanu PF aligned Grassroots Empowerment Flea Markets and Vendors’ Trust Association. These purges may have led to the demise of Chipangano, that had become a political scourge, especially prior to the 2008 and 2013 elections.
Mbare was a no-go area for opposition politicians as well as business people with links to any party outside Zanu PF as the use of the paramilitary group Chipangano made life near-hell for visitors and residents. National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe (Nvuz) director Samuel Wadzai said people needed to know the truth about how Zanu PF terrorised people. “It is the issue of patronage, because for one to operate freely they had to tow the Zanu PF line and pay literally through the nose. They operated like a mafia with proxies all over the place who forced ordinary vendors to pay up to $13 or $15 in spaces that the City of Harare would ordinarily demand $1 or $3”. They operated as space barons, taking over any open space and then sublet it to other vendors. They would get the bulk of the money. One also had to be linked to the ruling Zanu PF party.
Jim Kunaka defended his actions. Chipangano was only an idea of a person who believed in a single party and that is Zanu PF. There was nothing more and if some abused people in the name of the party, that was something else, but we never condoned violence. People have written nonsense about me and the things that I supposedly did. It is not fair. He said many youths were now successful entrepreneurs because of his interventions. [2]

In July 2015, investigations showed that foreign nationals, mainly Chinese and Nigerian, were smuggling second-hand clothes into Zimbabwe and then hiring vendors to sell them on the streets to dodge paying rentals and taxes. A protection racket also exists in which shadowy characters charge vendors varying amounts to set up base on particular streets. This racket (referred to as “space barons” on the street) assured many vendors that authorities would not be able to move them, hence the difficulties in getting the traders to relocate to designated selling sites.
Beitbridge, Chirundu and Nyamapanda border posts are mainly use to get bales of clothing and other consignments into Zimbabwe. In Harare, the goods are stacked in warehouses from where middlemen collect and then distribute them to the illegal vendors. Grassroots Economic Empowerment Association chair Alexio Mudzengerere said: “Preliminary findings reveal that the majority of vendors who were selling secondhand clothes were being sponsored by foreign nationals who would have brought bales from Mozambique.
The entire racket is precipitated by the unwillingness of importers to formalise operations and pay rent for retail space and taxes and levies to Government and local authorities. Commercial rentals for mid-sized retail space in Harare’s CBD range between US$800 and US$1 200 monthly, and businessowners also have to pay salaries, utility bills and taxes. [3]

In August 2015, members of the Grassroots Empowerment Flea Market and Vending Association Trust threatened to take legal action against their leaders, whom they accused of fleecing them of large sums of money as protection fees. Leaders have been demanding between $6 and $10 each day from each of the association’s members. “The leaders come in the name of Zanu PF and sometimes they put up Zanu PF flags and other regalia with the First Lady’s face.”
Council demands $1,25. Even this is too much for us considering the amount of business done, vendors complained.
Grassroots Empowerment Flea Market and Vending Association Trust chairman Alexio Mudzengerere dismissed the claims as false. [4]

In July 2017, CoH increased vendor’s levies by over 100%. Organisations complained it was done without any consultation and overlooked the challenges the informal traders faced. Vendors’ Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (Viset) director Samuel Wadzai reported the levy was $1,25 per day, being increased to $3. This was ridiculously extortionist. Grassroots for Empowerment Projects chairperson Alexio Mudzengerere said “The council wants to take advantage of the current state of the economy. They should create proper vending stalls and good payment systems.” They both also cited misuse of funds from the collection of the tariffs which they said should benefit vendors. [5]

  1. Zim’s free enterprise dilemma, Manica Post, Published: 21 November 2014, Retrieved: 29 April 2020
  2. Could this be the end of Chipangano?, The Standard, Published: 14 June 2015, Retrieved: 29 April 2020
  3. Bigwigs behind vendor menace, Sunday Mail, Published: 12 July 2015, Retrieved: 29 April 2020
  4. Vendors threaten to sue leaders for extortion, Newsday, Published: 20 August 2015, Retrieved: 29 April 2020
  5. Vendors cry foul, Newsday, Published: 22 July 2017, Retrieved: 29 April 2020