HARARE – The National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) has petitioned government ministers and the police to block Harare City Council (HCC)’s blitz against them.
Council and the police launched a blitz to drive vendors out of the Harare CBD as part of desperate measures to contain a typhoid outbreak.
In the petition — addressed to Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Health minister David Parirenyatwa and police boss Augustine Chihuri — Navuz chairperson, Sten Zvorwadza, said the vendors’ eviction from the streets will not address the typhoid crisis.
“We as vendors and citizens of Harare express our deepest concern over the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Harare City Council confiscating goods and wares of innocent women, children and youth, working on the streets of Harare,” he said.
“The heavy-handedness that is being displayed by our law enforcement agents paints a bad picture of our nation and inability of our leadership to resolve matters in a peaceful manner,” Zvorwadza said.
“Resolving the issue of typhoid cannot be done in isolation as a preserve of the council alone, ZRP and the ministry of Health as the only stakeholders or beneficiaries, leaving out the people who are greatly affected. The move to violently remove vendors from the streets is not a sustainable response to the problem in question,” he added.
Zvorwadza proposed that there should be a consultative process that’s inclusive of all the stakeholders affected, adding that government must create employment to remove vendors from the streets.
On Tuesday, High Court judge David Mangota reserved judgment in a matter in which vendors are seeking to bar the Harare City Council from demolishing their stalls and seizing their wares in the CBD.
Zvorwadza said the current operation was blatantly abusing the rights of the defenceless vending community, vulnerable women, children and youths who cannot speak for themselves.
“It paints a gloomy picture on the part of the Zimbabwean government’s ability to solve problems affecting its own citizens.
“We have noted with serious concerns that ZRP officers are beating up citizens with batons and throwing teargas, smoke canisters randomly which eventually affects those not involved in street vending.
“If you are not aware or part of this retrogressive behaviour by ZRP, please commission an urgent inquiry to seek an urgent redress as a measure to sanitise ZRP.
“We hold that the government’s direct attack on street vendors using ZRP preventing them from trading for survival is as good as removing oxygen from sick people on the death beds seeking their last breath,” Zvorwadza said.