National Vendors Union Zimbabwe (NAVUZ) has described the proposed move to chase vendors off the streets as tantamount to the ostracised Gukurahundi which claimed the lives of many innocent people as well as dislocating thousands in the Matabeleland and Midlands region.
This sentiment follows a directive by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Dr. Ignatius Chombo which commands vendors to vacate the streets within seven days.
The one-week ultimatum ends on Sunday after which law enforcement agents will descend on the streets to sweep out those who repel the directive.
Addressing journalists in the capital today Samuel Wadzai, the National Director of NAVUZ said forceful removal of vendors off the streets is reminiscent of Gukurahundi.
“Forceful removal of millions of vendors form the CBD of all cities in Zimbabwe will be reminiscent of the Gukurahundi of the early 1980s or even Operation Murambatsvina and we will not tolerate such maneuvers to bring social unrest in our beloved country,” he said.
The NAVUZ boss went on to blast Dr. Chombo for militarising the process.
“Chombo must be at the forefront in as far as efforts to legalise, organise and formalise vending are concerned.
“He has chosen to militarise the process as evidenced by his invitation of senior army members,” said Wadzai.
The involvement of army in the process as evidenced by the presence of commander of the Presidential Guard Brigadier-General Anselem Sanyatwe at the council meeting yesterday has been described as an effort by the minister to declare war on vendors.
“Zimbabwe is not in a state of emergence and inviting the army and the police to fight vendors is as good as declaring war on livelihoods.
“The call is not only a declaration of war on livelihoods but a clear demonstration of ignorance or deliberate oblivion on the macro-economic situation obtaining in Zimbabwe,” he said.
The Union which has vowed that its members will never be removed from their current places of operation urged the Minister to rethink his decision.
“NAVUZ urges the Minister to rethink his decision.
“As NAVUZ our position remains clear and we will communicate the same to our members that they will never be removed from their current vending sites unless alternatively and equally profitable vending sites are provided for them,” said Navuz boss.
Vendors interviewed by 263Chat have strongly condemned the seven day ultimatum.
Joseph Muchingami said, “In his order the Minister does not provide alternative vending spaces for the vendors who will be affected by such an inconsiderable operation.”
Patience Munemo, a vendor who sells in one of the streets in Harare condemned the move claiming that sending vendors off the streets will see their families starving as they won’t easily access customers at the designated points.
“Our customers are used to this place and sending us off will make us struggle,” she said.