VENDORS and other business operators around the Mbudzi interchange area say they were not informed about plans to construct the interchange by authorities, and were forced to vacate the area.
The multi-million-dollar project is expected to ease congestion at the intersection of the busy Harare-Beitbridge and the Chitungwiza-western suburbs roads intersection.Vendors around the Mbudzi area told NewsDay that they were forced to sell their wares after police descended on the area, destroying their tables to make way for the project.
Last week, vendors were chased away by the police, forcing them to hide at a nearby graveyard. Some resorted to selling their wares at the graveyard.
“We paid for the spaces here. The space barons demanded US$30 to US$1 200. Those who wanted tables were asked to pay US$30 and US$100. Those operating from areas built in brick paid US$1 200 for the space. Now the police are coming in and are taking away our goods, including food and cash. How are we supposed to survive,” one of the vendors told NewsDay.The vendors alleged that they were allocated some of the vending spaces by people reportedly affiliated to the ruling Zanu PF party.
Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation executive director Samuel Wadzai said they were still monitoring the situation and would soon challenge the constitutionality of the raid on vendors operating at Mbudzi.
“The authorities knew that they were supposed to relocate informal traders who were working from the area around the Mbudzi roundabout. We are seeing a lot of corruption now happening, and a lot of violence,” Wadzai said.
“A lot of confiscation of informal traders’ goods, illegal confiscation is totally unacceptable and a clear violation of the rights of us as informal economic workers. This is not something that we would have expected from the city council. We expected them to behave in a manner that respects the interests of the majority who are surviving in the informal economy.“We are watching the situation closely and we have been consulting with our lawyers since Monday when this violence started… We are going to take action to stop this because it is illegal and unconstitutional. We will engage our lawyers.”
A shop owner operating in the area said there was chaos as delivery vans were finding it difficult to access the area.
Zanu PF director of communications Tafadzwa Mugwadi referred the matter to the party’s provincial structures.
“These are issues better addressed by the relevant provincial leadership of the party or government. We are not privy to the arrangements there,” Mugwadi said.
Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said the police were deployed in the area to maintain peace and order.
“The Mbudzi roundabout was closed by the government and we do not know why the vendors are still at the Mbudzi roundabout? The police are there to maintain law and order and not allocate vending stalls. If there is anyone who feels that they were defrauded, they must make reports to the police. If they see any police officer misbehaving, they must also report to the officer-in-charge at Southerton or Mbare,” Nyathi said.