Court stops Zimbabwe from expelling street vendors


A Zimbabwean High Court has barred the country’s government from evicting thousands of street vendors who have flooded streets of the capital city Harare and other towns.

Last week the Zimbabwean government’s feared security group The Joint Operations Command (Joc), which comprises of army chiefs, police and state spy agents, stated that it will evict all streets vendors from the heart of the capital Harare and other towns. They accused the streets vendors of turning Zimbabwe’s city centres into shanty towns.

However the vendors representative body, Zimbabwe Informal Sector’s Organization (Ziso), quickly dragged Zimbabwe Defence Minister, Local Government Minister, and City of Harare to court, seeking an order to bar them from evicting its members from the streets.

Harare High Court Judge Justice Felistas Chatukuta duly obliged, granting the order in Ziso’s favour on Monday afternoon. “The 1st respondent (Local Government), 2nd respondent (Defence Minister) and 3rd respondent (City of Harare) be interdicted from evicting the applicant`s legal members from their designated vending sites without due process.”

Although the Zimbabwe Defence  Minister Sydney Sekeramayi last Friday denied that soldiers were part of the government’s plan to kick the streets vendors out of the city centre, commander of the Presidential Guard, Brigadier-General Anselem Sanyatwe earlier this week appeared on national television, saying they will come hard on those
resisting the order. “I want to warn you, we don’t want to chase each other. We have the powers. Go and address your people and tell them to go to designated places,” Sanyatwe told vendors unions leaders.

Due to the economic meltdown gripping Zimbabwe, over one million streets vendors have flooded the southern African country’s cities, selling goods ranging from foodstuffs to clothes. Harare alone is estimated to have over 100,000 streets vendors.

The prevailing harsh economic environment in Zimbabwe has left several companies shutdown in the past decade and thrown thousands into the streets. According Zimbabwe central bank, about 4,000 workers lost their jobs in 2014, while Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said 4,600 companies closed down between 2011 and October 2014, resulting in 64,000 job losses.

Zimbabwe economists say, unless something drastic happens, 2015 will be another year of economic decline in Zimbabwe associated with the collapse of social institutions and further reduction in the delivery of essential services to the population.

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