Harare vendors resist eviction

HARARE - Municipal police officers yesterday attempted to remove vendors from Harare’s city centre to alternative vending sites, igniting angry and sometimes violent clashes between the informal traders and the municipal law enforcement agents.

The clashes raised the spectre of another crackdown similar to the controversial Operation Murambatsvina (Shona for “throw out trash”) of 2005 which left at least 700 000 people without a source of livelihood, according to an official United Nations report.

Thousands of angry vendors resisted the crackdown in and around the Copacabana kombi rank yesterday. Among those clinging to their pavement spots were fruit and vegetable vendors who vowed to stay put.

This prompted agitated municipal police officers to destroy tents and stalls belonging to members of the Grassroots Empowerment Flea Market and Vending Association Trust, while angry vendors threw water, rotten fruit, iron bars and wooden pellets at the law enforcers as the violent clashes moved from one corner to the other.

Some of the vendors burst into song, singing popular liberation war songs such as “povho yaramba (which loosely interpreted means the masses say ‘no’), as the fruit and vegetable vendors dug in.

A street trader, Petros Kariwo, told the Daily News that most vendors were prepared to fight for their right to make a living.

He said the Harare City Council had created most of the prevailing confusion by not clearly stating where the various traders were supposed to operate from.

A clothing trader whose stall was vandalised near Cleveland House said she was surprised to find her wares scattered on the ground despite having been registered with council.

She blamed council for making them pay $4, knowing very well that they would still evict them from their tent.

“Council stole our money through their bogus registration exercise and now they want to get rid of us. They should give us our money back. We are the ones working for them while they live lavish lives. It is better to be beaten by a baton stick than this punishment they have rendered on us.

“When we registered they said we could operate from Copacabana which is where we have always been, but now they do this to us. We have nowhere to go in our own country of birth. If we leave Zimbabwe we are constantly harassed and reminded that we are foreigners and now we are stranded in our own country,” she said tearfully.

She said if Zanu PF created the 2,2 million jobs that the ruling party had promised to avail in its 2013 election manifesto, virtually all vendors would “gladly leave the streets” for formal employment “which was better”.

Since the controversial registration exercise started on June 26, more than 7 000 vendors had been registered by authorities.

HCC spokesperson, Michael Chideme, said council’s decision to move the vendors was meant to free pavements for pedestrians, as well as shopfronts for shop owners.

He said the exercise to move the vendors was receiving approval from Harare residents, who had been complaining about the street traders’ menace.

“We are doing what the majority of Harare residents want, which is to remove vendors from the streets. Residents want order in their city and we are doing just that,” Chideme said.

Comments (5)

Remember most of these vendors are single mothers so where do you want them to go and source funds for their kids on the other hand you legalising prostitution so you want these vendors to be prostitutes its a chess game mind your moves.

GAMATOX/gukurahundi - 9 July 2015

Order and normalcy can only be restored in our cities if and when the powers that be do something tenable about the root cause of the chaos that has become the order of the day in all the cities nationwide. A problem like a disease can never be solved from the symptoms but the cause. The problem doesn't at all lie with the vendors but the govt and its empty promises coupled with the closure of companies whereas others have resorted to downsizing. Govt should deliver on its promises if at all order is to be restored.

pride - 9 July 2015

nyaya yema vendors yatiri kutamba nayo semahumbwe iyi moto uhatipisa tese zvedu pasina anosara. Ngatidzamisei pfungwa, zvikuru imi muri kumusoro, tigadzire dambudziko iri. Vamwe mungati hatinei nazvo sezvo tisiri ma vendor acho asi kana wava moto unopisa zvinhu zvose pasinei nekuti autanga ndiani. Mukai hama dzangu tirege kuita semadununu nyika izere vanhu vakasvika kudaro. mashoko angu ngaarege kuve mhodzi yawira paruware.

edika - 10 July 2015

This is a disaster in the making. I agree with Pride. We need to go down to the root cause. Our ministries are not accountable to anyone hence this disaster we are slowly sliding into. Do the ministers responsible know exactly what is expected of them or do they care? There has been no meaningful development to better the lives of the common Zimbabwean since we attained our independence in 1980. Lets be honest. The only thing we managed was to remove the words "kirfur", "bobjan" that were used by whites on blacks. Otherwise we positively promoted oppression of black by black. Who is living a better life today? Who is putting food on the table day in day out today? Who has got money in the bank today? Who is having a decent burial today when they die? Who is sending children to better schools today? I say "better schools" because most of those schools we have in Zimbabwe have been turned into playgrounds. Who cares? Ministers are civil servants like any other poor civil servant but they have amassed wealth in a poor country like Zimbabwe. What is this? Do people have conscience? Where are we going? What is happening? Who is doing this? For what? One day...................

dzidzo - 10 July 2015

The issue of vendors and vending is a double edged sword. Look at it this way. Somebody has a table at Mbare musika and everyday they pay to City of Harare to receive and sell produce there. Today somebody pitches up at corner Leopold Takawira and Nelson Mandela and receives bags of potatos and sells them there. How do we view such scenario? Let us all respect those we choose to govern us. Vending sites should be designated by law same way law adjusts traffic lights to regulate traffic. As a nation let us learn to differentiate anarchy from law and order. I have many relatives now earning a living selling potatos and pumpkins on street cabs. I also have relatives who are paying rentals at designated places and buildings but sure to close shop given the latest developments. We choose people to represent us at town house and we undertake to obey rules they set up. What is more simpler than that?

D. Munonyara. - 10 July 2015

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