Crackdown on vendors begins

This picture collage shows police officers enforcing the ban on illegal vendors along Simon Muzenda Street (formerly Fourth Street) in Harare yesterday afternoon

This picture collage shows police officers enforcing the ban on illegal vendors along Simon Muzenda Street (formerly Fourth Street) in Harare yesterday afternoon

Herald Reporters—
Harare assumed a refreshing new look yesterday after police descended on illegal vendors in the central business district (CBD) where they had become an eyesore after taking over virtually every available space on roads and pavements.The law enforcement agents managed to clear the streets during the day, although defiant vendors resurfaced after 6:30pm along Robert Mugabe Road, Jason Moyo Avenue, Chinhoyi Street and Simon Muzenda (formerly Fourth) Street. Some of the vendors could be seen in the evening pushing carts loaded with fruits and vegetables.

The few vendors were playing a cat-and-mouse game with anti-riot police in the evening. They would run away with their wares on seeing the police and return to their illegal sites when law enforcements agents would have moved to other streets. The crackdown by the police follows a Government directive on Wednesday for illegal vendors and pirate taxis operating in the CBD to be moved to designated sites.

A survey conducted by The Herald yesterday showed that police were heavily deployed in and around the city to ensure peace prevailed during the crackdown, which also targeted pirate taxis. But some vendors would hide their wares from the officers and resume trading once they were out of sight. Pirate taxis continued operating in spite of the heavy police presence. There were no incidences of violence recorded during the operation yesterday. Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said the operation was going on well.

“We are progressing very well and there is peace and tranquillity,” he said. “There is order and no resistance at all.” Harare provincial police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Simon Chazovachii said police would remain on the ground to ensure that peace and tranquillity prevailed. Police are out in full force and they will remain on high alert on the ground,” he said. “They are there to maintain peace and of which today (yesterday) it was peaceful.

“We would like to urge vendors to comply with the orders and they should move to designated vending sites.” Asst Insp Chazovachii said they will continue monitoring some of the vendors who were playing cat and mouse games with the police. Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Mr Denford Mutashu applauded President Mugabe for stamping authority on the clampdown on vendors.

“We would want to applaud His Excellency, President Mugabe for stamping authority to clampdown on vendors after council had come out in the open that they had failed to deal with the matter,” he said. Mr Mutashu said between 2015 and last year, they had been lobbying for the vendors to be removed from the streets. He said some of the vendors had been stealing goods from shops, which they would then sell in front of the same shops at cheaper prices. Some of the vendors, he said, were in the habit of defecating, urinating and harassing pedestrians on the streets.

“I don’t know why Harare City Council had been waiting for the President’s directive, yet they are the ones who are in charge of the city,” said Mr Mutashu. “We would like to call upon for the sustainability of this operation and it should not be a short term one.”

Mr Mutashu said with the operation, Government had created an environment where people would operate their businesses in a conducive environment. He said those operating pirate taxis should be removed from the streets and that Government should come up with an efficient transport system. Shop owners across the capital welcomed the Government-inspired campaign against street vendors. A businessman running a footwear shop, Yerman Superior Shoes, at the corner of Robert Mugabe and Julius Nyerere, who preferred to be identify by his last name Patel, welcomed the Government decision to rid the city of vending.

“How filthy is the city?” he said. “Where do these vendors go to relieve themselves when they are hard-pressed? These questions alone provide you with answers.” Mr Patel said on the other hand he sympathised with the vendors who were trying to eke-out a living through honesty means, but the city needed to be clean.

“I think you need to walk in the streets and smell the stench,” he said. “It is not nice at all. It is no longer the sunshine city. It is now a dump site city.” A manager at a plastic ware shop along the same street, Mr John Magiya said: “The vendors are selling their wares in front of our shops, blocking our customers’ way into the shops. They are killing our business. They should go away.” But some vendors described the campaign against vending as a devastating blow for their suistainence. Mbuya Rutendo, a seasoned vendor from Epworth, said she had been in the vending business throughout her life.

“It is survival of the fittest,” she said. “We will continue playing cat and mouse game with the law.” A pirate taxi driver Thomson Chigora said he needed to fend for his family, hence he would not be deterred with the latest development. My brother, it is sad that we are striving to do the wisest and normal thing and we are now being arrested,” he said. Most motorists who spoke to The Herald welcomed the decision to push kombi and mushika-shika operators to designated sites, saying this will enable a free flow of traffic.

Addressing journalists on Wednesday during a Joint Operations Command (JOC), Harare Metropolitan Provincial Affairs Minister Miriam Chikukwa bemoaned the deplorable state of the capital and directed that all illegal vendors and pirate taxis be moved to designated sites with immediate effect.

The briefing was attended by representatives of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS), and officials from the Harare City Council (HCC) and the Environment Management Agency (EMA).

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  • Runyararo

    It will be interesting to see how long the powers that be can be able to maintain the momentum of the much hyped crackdown. The problem with our authorities is they are always reactionary, and keep taking kneejerk reactions which are not informed by the realities on the ground. We can’t treat symptoms and hope the disease will be taken care of. Isn’t it that vending has become a fully fledged industry? Is it not part of the 2,2 million jobs?

  • Chamunorwa

    Here we go again. We had Murambatsvina and other clearances. As usual, there is little analysis on the source of these vendors’ problems. The reality on the ground is that these people are trying to make ends meet in a strikingly harsh economic environment. What will they do next? How will they pay fees and rent or feed their families. The poor die a thousand times before their ultimate death.

  • full force

    Law enforcement agents should be on the streets day and night so that these vendors do not go back onto the streets. They should use the designated sites. Customers will follow like in the past when we used to go to Mbare Msika or Mupedzanhamo to buy cheap vegetables of clothes

  • Another Zimbabwean

    The police and the council will soon get tired like most cleaning operations. A lasting solution is for the creation of formal employment and street vending will die a natural death. We are now street vendors because we do not have jobs and need to provide food for our family. Bleed my beloved Zimbabwe as ZanuPF sucks your blood.

  • farai

    We need serious people in Public Offices. What surprises me is that these people in public offices only react to a problem when the President says something about the problem. I think the clean up should start in these Public Executive Offices. Why can`t they take proactive action before the challenges become a problem? The President`s Office should realize that these Public Officers are fooling the High Office

  • Pastor Farie

    This wont last…

  • Isac Hunt

    Remember when Mbare was cleared away… its back again.

  • eliah

    This is my fear as well because if it is a short exercise then there are wasting their precious time, at the fatal spot at road port the touts are back and the same long distance buses doing what there know best picking up passengers, whilst a group of police officers will be watching from a distance.

  • DarkChild

    This is exactly how Tunisia started out exactly 7 years ago, give 2 months: instigated by dissatisfaction, particularly of youth and unions, with the rule of local governments. This will only drive to unify the vendors and the rest of the citizenry who sympathise with them against a common enemy. We all know at least one close relative or friend who have their livelihood in vending. This will not end well because the economic pressures that ZANU PF wishes to derisively label as “Cyber security threats” ARE REAL increasing everyday, and one of these days someone has got to give an answer. When you make illegal the only legitimate way one has to make a living you have relegated them to a life of crime and resistance against authority.

  • inini

    Mbuya Rutendo, a seasoned vendor from Epworth, endai munotengesera ku Epworth kwenyu, let those who are paying TAX and rental vaite basa ravo. Choppies, TM, OK, etc havasi ivo vakakuvimbisai 2 million jobs, ibvai pa pavement pavo. endai munotengesera ku state house kwamakavimbiswa mabasa

  • lawyer

    Nonsense, we are talking of cleanness, hygiene and orderliness and yet you talk of the filth garbage gathering at Copacabana, incidentally a place where most of these filthy vendors operate from. Do not just bark!

  • sky

    Inga Mugabe achiri ne power ,a few days ago he bemoaned the state to the capital and said he would talk to the Minister of Local government Saviour Kasukuwere to remove/relocate vendors elsewhere, yesterday vendors are remove. Why doesn’t he take a step further and order the Minister of Health Dr Parirenyatwa to buy 100 CT scanners for our hospitals, dialysis machines, MRI machines, radio therapy machines ?Judging by the $10 million spent in NYC recently it could have bought tens of machines thereby saving lives.

  • Chamunorwa

    I don’t understand you. You have correctly observed that there is Garbage at Copacabana. Where do you think that Garbage is coming from. Its coming From the very same people you say are trying to eke a living . Do you have to eke a living throwing Garbage into the streets. Some contributions leave a lot to be desired. When the rains come and you get cholera . who do you blame . the Government I suppose. Government is not saying don’t eke out a living. Do so from prescribed places. No matter how wrong this government is, there is no justification for selling from un-designated places. Tell me that the police are chasing people from designated places aah then vanenge vadenha magwiro.