‘Removal of vendors violates rights’

Source: ‘Removal of vendors violates rights’ – DailyNews Live

Helen Kadirire      22 October 2017

HARARE – Recent clashes between law enforcement authorities and vendors in
Harare were brutal, unacceptable and in violation of human and worker
rights, an international body representing vendors has said.

StreetNet International which has more than 600 000 members from 49
countries across the world said the clashes between enforcement
authorities and vendors was brutal, unacceptable and in violation of human
and worker rights.

The organisation’s international coordinator Pat Horn said the world would
be watching how government violates International Labour Organisation
conventions and recommendations on vendors.

“StreetNet considers such actions towards our sisters and brothers in
Zimbabwe, brutal, unacceptable and in violation of their human and worker

“In an economy where only 15,5 percent of all working people in Zimbabwe
are paid employees with permanent contracts, forcing a large proportion of
workers in the labour force to work in the informal economy, proper
dialogue and solution-based approach, rather than forced removals which
victimise informal workers, would be more appropriate.

“These workers have a right to earn a living for themselves and their
families,” Horn said.

The StreetNet international coordinator said government should adopt more
inclusive ways of dealing with vendors such as negotiations and not use
brute force.

Horn said both central and local government should not renege from the ILO
Recommendation 204, which Zimbabwe adopted.

“We stand in full solidarity with all street vendors and informal traders
of Zimbabwe, and call for an end to Operation Restore Order – an attack on
the livelihoods of the working poor which the world is watching,” Horn

Meanwhile, MDC Bulawayo senator Eddie Cross told the Daily News on Sunday
that while the idea of removing vendors is counter-productive, the clear
political motive is still to be revealed.

At a youth meeting a fortnight ago, Mugabe said all vendors in Harare’s
Central Business District should be removed immediately as they had become
an eyesore.

After Mugabe’s announcement several other local authorities across the
country have taken the initiative to also remove vendors from their

“There are millions of street vendors. The informal sector is much larger
than the formal sector and millions of people depend on these small
business ventures for everything. It seems to me the only motive is to
placate the president who wants to `clean’ the city.

“The only desire is to see the country’s cities return to the past when
vending was not significant – however, since then the economy has
collapsed and unemployment has meant that everyone has to get into the
informal economy if they are to survive.

“The blitz against vendors will not succeed…the only difference now is
that they are angry,” Cross said.

He strongly believes that all vendors should be registered to operate
within the confines of the law while being encouraged to develop and
eventually join the formal sector.

Residents Forum coordinator Denford Ngadziore said while the directive to
remove vendors came from Mugabe it is now beyond them, as central and
local government does not have the capacity to enforce.

“This removal could trigger violence as there will be a battle between
hungry Zimbabweans who have been on the streets for more than a decade.
Government and local authorities do not have the resources to remove these
people on a daily basis,” he said.

Gweru Residents Forum director Charles Mazorodze said the problem of
vendors is not the peoples’ creation but of government.

He said vendors are the result of poor macro-economic policies that
central government should fix and not local authorities.

Mazorodze added that Gweru’s city fathers have been ignoring the concerns
raised by the vendors which are very genuine.

“The site they are pushing the vendors does not have any stalls, water or
toilets. If that is mixed with days of uncollected refuse, Gweru could be
the new breeding ground of diseases such as typhoid and cholera.

“Gweru should take a leaf from Bulawayo and close of one street in the
city where vendors can trade freely and council can also collect their
levies. That way both parties win,” Mazorodze said.