via Govt body probes abuse of vendors – New Zimbabwe 25/11/2015
THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) on Tuesday started investigating cases of human rights abuses which were perpetrated against vendors by the municipal police in Harare and Bulawayo.
At least 170 000 vendors were in July displaced with their wares worth over 500 000 confiscated countrywide after government had directed the local authorities to evict traders from the CBD.
According to reports, some of the confiscated goods were handed over to the First lady Grace Mugabe who later donated them at a rally in Murombedzi.
In its July human rights monitoring report, the Zimbabwe Peace Project NGO reported that 261 vendors were arrested in Harare, Gweru, Masvingo, Mutare, Bulawayo and Domboshawa.
ZHRC chairperson Elasto Mugwadi invited vendor representative organisations to a Tuesday meeting in Harare.
One of the organisations which were part of the meeting, the Vendors Initiative for Sustainable Economic Transformation (VISET), told NewZimbabwe.com that they were happy with the engagement.
“They wanted to hear from us how the evictions of vendors were conducted in Harare and Bulawayo and we told them that they were violently handled,” Samuel Wadzai, VISET director said.
“What excited us is that all the organisations which were there spoke coherently and with one voice on how these evictions were conducted by the local authorities and there was no contradiction, a thing which we hope that if well captured is going to produce a comprehensive report on human rights violations.”
Wadzai said the Commission also heard of the on-going harassment of vendors by the local authorities who “are” doing nothing to address the plight of the traders.
“At the moment, government is doing nothing to address the concerns of vendors who deserve markets to conduct their business and we had a chance to highlight this to the commission and told them human rights violations on vendors have not stopped,” he said.
Harare city council has failed to allocate vendors malls in the central business district because of their increasing number.
The council had tried to move vendors away from the CBD by allocating them stands outside of town a move which has been resisted.
Vendors argue that the new places where the authorities have moved them to have no ablution facilities.
They also say these areas are far from their customers. As a result, they have been slowly returning to the CBD during the night which is when the municipal police would have knocked off.