FIREBRAND Zanu PF legislator and former Harare municipal police officer, Joseph Chinotimba has thrown his weight behind street vendors in the capital city who have endured continued harassment by his former colleagues.
“Vendors are not necessarily guilty of any offences. They are a case of need. What needs to be done is to organise them well without being beaten up,” Chinotimba said in Shona on Sunday.
Harare’s central business district has been invaded by hundreds of illegal vendors who sell perishables, miscellaneous electrical products and other trinkets as formal employment remains scarce.
Acting on instructions by Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, council authorities have past few months deployed municipal police to drive the vendors out, in some instances confiscating their wares.
The high handed approach was roundly condemned by the country’s rights groups and the opposition which felt the current government should first deliver more than two million jobs promised during the 2013 election campaign period before denying the vendors of their only source of livelihood.
Scenes of municipal police officers dragging vendors and razing down vending stalls and in some instances burning confiscated clothing were captured on camera during the operation.
But the self-styled commander of the violent invasions on white owned farms in 2000 felt it was his former colleagues in the Harare municipality needed to be more compassionate.
“During our days in council, we never used to have so many battles with the vendors. They even knew me personally and how I wanted things done,” said the Zanu PF legislator.
“I see lack of administration there. I personally think that we must treat them well bearing in mind that they are needy people.”
Chinotimba was speaking in a live interview with a private broadcaster Sunday evening.
The hilarious MP and war veteran served in the Harare municipality from the early 1980s and left when he became active in national politics after the turn of the century.
The Buhera South MP has, over the past few months, turned self-styled defender of the downtrodden.
Last year, he staged a one-man demonstration in central Harare against the harassment of pirate taxi operators by municipal police.