BY STAFF REPORTER
ZANU PF youths in Mutare yesterday besieged the Sakubva flea market where they took over vegetable market stalls claiming the COVID-19-induced lockdown had impoverished them.
The youths were being led by Zanu PF Mutare district secretary for youths affairs Danmore Mambondiyani.
The move by the youths is likely to set the ruling party on a collision course with the Mutare City Council, which has halted trading at the site citing health concerns.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, vendors were removed from the site in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
In 2019, Mutare City Council decentralised vegetable markets and flea markets to residential suburbs.
Mambondiyani told NewsDay that they decided to take over the sites as council was reluctant to open them.
He said the Zanu PF youths decided to take the law into their own hands and open the markets in order to relieve pressure on some vending sites that were now overcrowded.
“As the secretary for youth affairs in Mutare district, I am trying to solve the issue of vendors as reopening of the markets has dragged for a long time and we are now taking the matters upon ourselves so that these issues are addressed,” Mambondiyani said.
“What has happened since the first lockdown period is that people have been selling wares at their houses, and municipal police would then harass them. As youths we are protecting the name of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and that of the vendors. Our leader has already said that all markets should be opened.
“We have been engaging Mutare City Council over the opening of these vending sites and they were just reluctant to do so. After opening the markets ,we will make sure that all COVID-19 precautionary measures are followed.”
The Zanu PF youth leader then addressed scores of vendors where he denounced council for delaying the opening of the market.
Critics yesterday dismissed the move as a mere political gimmick ahead of the 2023 elections, where Zanu PF is targeting five million votes.
Later, the Zanu PF youths and traders gathered to register their tables before riot police dispersed them.
Council spokesperson Sprein Mutiwi was not reachable for comment.