A cross section of vendors operating on the streets of Harare have vowed to stay put, challenging President Robert Mugabe to give them alternative means of survival failure of which they will continue fighting for their “place” on the streets.
This follows President Robert Mugabe’s remarks over the weekend that vendors and pirate taxis should operate from designated points, ordering their immediate removal from the streets.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Harare Municipal Police have since launched a blitz to forcefully remove vendors from the streets.
A convoy of police anti-riot vehicles were on Thursday seen milling the streets of Harare with the few resisting vendors being arrested and taken to Harare Central Police Station.
Vendors who spoke to 263Chat vowed to continue operating in the streets as it is their only means of survival.
They pointed out that the government’s move would be bad for their business as it renders them penniless and unable to sustain their livelihoods.
“The president is wrong in having us removed from the streets. There are no jobs and that is why we are vending. I do not think you would find so many people in the streets if there were jobs so he should consider the issue of jobs first before making such decisions,” said one vendor operating near townhouse who refused to be named for fear of reprisals.
Another vendor identified as Daniel, said Mugabe’s government was responsible for the rot within the Harare Central Business District and he should fix it.
“By chasing us away, Mugabe is not doing any justice because he is the reason why we are in this mess. he should be the one to know how to get us out. and its nit by chasing us away but addressing the real challenge , which is the economic collapse, until then, we are staying on the streets and everyday we will be playing this maze run game with the police,” he said.
Precious Shumba of the Harare Residents Trust, told 263Chat that ordering vendors off the streets was being inhumane of Mugabe administration as vending was the only alternative most people have.
“What is happening is like state repression where you bring in heavily armed police, the army and municipal police to just run after vendors and kick them out of town and abuse them.
“That is inhumane. The President needs to have heart and give a certain degree of hope to the people who are into vending,” said Shumba.
He urged government to come up with clear policies that promote employment creation.
Spokesperson of the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai, Obert Gutu castigated the move and said forcibly removing vendors off the streets is not the ideal solution, but there is need for a holistic approach by the Mugabe led government to create jobs.
he said “If we had formal jobs, an average person wouldn’t be on the streets, but the fact that we don’t have an economy to talk about, where people can be formally employed ,mean people have no option.
“As MDC-T we condemn that act of chasing away vendors. these are innocent people who are feeling the consequences of mismanagement and corruption at the hands of Mugabe and his government,” said Gutu.