Crackdown on Harare vendors begin
HARARE Municipal Police on Wednesday swooped on illegal vendors in the Central Business District (CBD), pulling down tents and removing vending stalls as council moves in to bring sanity to the city centre.
The crackdown on vendors appeared to be a response to newly appointed Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Saviour Kasukuwere’s order after he appeared on television threatening to deal with council officials if they fail to remove vendors from the
Kasukuwere said if the city fathers, especially in Harare, do not clean up the ‘mess’ brought about by vendors, he will clean up Town House.
Vendors, who appeared to have successfully resisted government and council attempts to drive them to the peripheries of the city, say they were surprised when municipal police officers suddenly stormed their trading places and forcefully drove them out from as early as 7am.
This situation was worse at trading hotspots around Town House where tents belonging to an outfit called Grassroots Empowerment affiliated to ZANU-PF were pulled down.
Militant vendors however vowed to stay on the streets and fight. There was drama at Copacabana terminus when irate vendors whose tents had been pulled down despite the fact that council had registered them about two weeks ago, stormed another tent housing fruit vendors who have not been registered as they tried to take over.
The fruit vendors however stood their ground and refused to leave, resulting in a standoff that took nearly three hours and attracted the attention of riot police.
The Financial Gazette witnessed the melee as vendors traded harsh words and threw objects at each other while.
Some vendors even dared confront both riot and municipal police officers.
“We are prepared to die here on the streets, this is our sole means of survival but you should make a plan to send our children to school if we die at your hands,” a middle aged woman shouted into a truckload of riot police officer who remained calm and appeared unmoved.
City of Harare spokesman, Michael Chideme, said council would continue with the operation until all vendors have been relocated to designated vending sites.
“People are being moved to designated vending sites to create free shop fronts and free pavements which what everyone wants. We will be intensifying the programme in the coming days. We know this might be painful to some but these are birth pangs of a good future,” he said.