There were running battles in Harare’s Central Business District (CBD) over the weekend as police and Harare City Council (HCC) officials launched a major blitz to drive vendors out of the city.
On Saturday, the Daily News witnessed hordes of police details chasing vendors from their selling points in the CBD and yesterday, although most vendors did not report for duty, the police who were in full force continued with their blitz.
The police who were ferried by more than nine trucks to the vendors’ selling points were seen at Fourth Street bus termini and Coppa Cabbana harassing and confiscating vendors’ wares.
In an interview with the Daily News, HCC corporate communications manager Michael Chideme said chasing away the vendors from the CBD was a way of fighting the Cholera epidemic which has killed more than 25 people to date.
“We have cholera and this is part of the fight against the epidemic, we are taking the vendors to their designated sites,” he said.
National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) Chairperson Sten Zvorwadza said removing vendors from the streets through confrontation will not work and government should pursue persuasive and participatory strategies to remove them.
“The process of removing informal workers from the streets should be through dialogue and they should voluntarily leave the streets rather than through confrontation.
“Confrontation has not worked in the past, it has failed so many times and it will still fail again.”
He said informal traders should be sucked into the mainstream economy through participation in business contracts in all sectors so as to successfully remove them from the streets.
Vendors who spoke to the Daily News expressed dismay over the blitz saying vending is their only way of living and they have no other means.
“We have no other means of making money as there are no jobs in the country. I am not here because I’m not educated, but this is the only option I have to put bread on the table for my children,” Vimbai Kasvosve said.
Martha Chokuona said the government is now pushing them to engage in illegal means to earn a living.
“By chasing us away and taking away our wares, the government will increase the crime rate and prostitution because people want to fend for their families.
“We are not even aware of the designated places the council is talking about,” she said.
On Friday it is reported that Local Government ministry’s permanent secretary George Mugosvongwe wrote a letter to acting Harare Town Clerk Hosea Chisango advising on the need to drive vendors out in a bid to stop all activities that threaten public health.
Meanwhile, MDC Alliance secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora has urged political players not to politicise the recent cholera outbreak.
Over the past couple of days, Zanu PF and the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance have been embroiled in a war of words, trading accusations and counter accusations over the recent cholera outbreak that broke out in the country at the beginning of this month.
While Zanu PF has heaped the blame on the opposition doorstep accusing it of running down the local authorities, Mwonzora has laughed off the accusations, describing them as bizarre.
Mwonzora took to Twitter: “It was sad to hear the minister of Health blaming the MDC for the outbreak of Cholera.
“That’s rather bizarre. There is no need to politicise cholera. We must all unite to fight this disease.”
Newly-appointed Health minister Obadiah Moyo reportedly blamed the HCC for the cholera outbreak saying the council has failed its residents by not providing clean water and proper sanitation.
The cholera outbreak has also affected the Zimbabwe International Book Fair Association (ZIBFA) which has indefinitely postponed the 2018 Book Fair Indaba and Exhibition over health considerations.
ZIBFA interim board chairperson Jasper Maenzanise said they have deferred this year’s book fair until further notice.
The two-day fair, which is usually held in July, was scheduled for September 26-29 at the Harare Gardens.
The event was moved towards the end of September to pave way for the harmonised elections which were held on July 30.