HARARE – Government seems to have lost the war against vendors and illegal foreign currency dealers, as most of the informal traders are trickling back into the Harare CBD, despite a massive joint police and council blitz against them.
About a month ago, President Robert Mugabe ordered authorities to flush out the vendors and other informal traders from the Harare CBD, arguing they were a menace, making the capital filthy and chaotic.
Since the 93-year-old leader’s decree, law enforcement agents and vendors have been involved in endless running battles.
“When I arrived from South Africa, I heard that Harare is now dirty with vendors now everywhere, even streets which were given names such as (Julius) Nyerere and (Robert) Mugabe are now covered with dirt. Some vendors are selling their wares during the night so that they cannot be arrested,” Mugabe said.
But despite being declared persona non grata, the vendors remain defiant, arguing they have no other forms of livelihood due to the high unemployment levels in the country.
National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe leader, Sten Zvorwadza, said “I said it before that Mugabe doesn’t have the capacity to remove vendors, we know that our evil government has the capacity to beat and kill us but he can’t chase us from the streets — it’s a matter of our survival. Even if they come with bombs and guns they will not remove us from the streets.”
“We are not going anywhere. We are in the streets because of poor economic management. We say to the government give us jobs and we will not continue to be in the streets. We are a creation of the government’s economic policies,” he told the Daily News.
Recently, Zvorwadza held a meeting with disgruntled vendors, touts and foreign currency dealers and resolved that they will remain on the streets.
“We resolved that we must remain in the streets so we are simply doing what we have agreed. We cannot be chased away from the street by people who are living well while we are struggling to feed our families.
“The government must accept the real situation on the ground and start to craft policy which protects all vendors.
“We are appealing to the government to listen to many Zimbabweans who are crying in the streets for a voice of reason. We have taken up innovative ways to create jobs and fight poverty through the informal community.”
However, Harare City Council spokesperson, Michael Chideme, said the operation has been a success and they will continue chasing away illegal vendors.
“The operation is going on well, the number of street vendors has been reduced people are very happy because they can now move freely in the CBD.”