Zim on tipping point

via Zim on tipping point | The Financial Gazette – Zimbabwe News 4 Jun 2015

ZIMBABWE faces a moment of truth in the coming days as all socio-economic fundamentals that are in free-fall collude in what could be the country’s tipping point in its long and tortuous journey to return to stability, the Financial Gazette can report.
Fast moving events playing out in the country’s body politic suggest that the nation is sliding fast down a precarious hillside as the government increasingly fails to bring the economy back on the rails.
All attempts to lure foreign investment — the easiest way out of the liquidity crunch — have yielded nothing but endless hope; while industries have collapsed due to a debilitating cash crisis, among other forces.
And ultimatums given this week by Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister, Ignatius Chombo, to thousands of the country’s former industry and commerce workers who have taken to the streets to join thousands of jobless youths to vend to survive, are the strongest signs yet that government is now clueless on how to put the country back on track.
Incoherent political rhetoric by the country’s politicians, who appear sharply divided in opinion and solutions to the country’s problems, have not helped matters either.
And in all this socio-economic mayhem, desperate Zimbabweans have been pushed to the wall.
The voices of some of the thousands of people who have resorted to vending to make ends meet in the country’s towns and cities, are telling.
“The First Lady (Grace Mugabe) said we should be selling freely on the streets and who is Chombo to drive us away. The police will find us selling on the streets on Monday. They can beat us to death if they want,” is what the president of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCLEA) Lucia Masekesa said.
ZCLEA says it is the umbrella body of all informal traders associations in Zimbabwe.
The vendors’ sentiments came after Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa indicated recently that it would not be possible to remove the thousands of people off the streets, unless you shoot them, as long as the country’s economy remains depressed.
Yesterday, legal watchdog, Veritas, said if the government intends deploying the army to remove the street vendors without first giving the police and local authorities an opportunity to do so, then it will be acting unconstitutionally.
It said the Constitution regards the army as one of the branches of the Defence Forces whose duty is to protect Zimbabwe, its people, its national security and interests and its territorial integrity and to uphold the Constitution.
Section 213 (2) says; “With the authority of the President, the Defence Forces may be deployed in Zimbabwe — (a) in defence of Zimbabwe; (b) in support of the Police Service in the maintenance of public order; or (c) in support of the Police Service and other civilian authorities in the event of an emergency or disaster.”
“There is a very good reason for limiting the grounds on which the Defence Forces can be deployed within Zimbabwe. The Defence Forces are the coercive arm of the State, to be deployed when the government is compelled to use violent force to defend itself. Their personnel are not trained as police officers: ultimately they are trained to kill people. They do not even have the legal power to arrest civilians,” said Veritas.
“When it comes to ordinary police duties such as moving street vendors to designated sites, the police and local authority officials should be left to do it. It is implicit from the nature and role of the Defence Forces that only when a threat to public order must be forcibly quelled can the Defence Forces be called in to apply that force.”
Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza weighed in.
“It looks like they are serious in getting rid of the vendors. But it’s a desperate move really. People are trying to survive… It’s difficult to solve the problem…We have had a Murambatsvina before. And how many Murambatsvinas do we need before we realise that the problem is deep-seated than that?” asked Mandaza.
The vendors have since found fighting partners in human rights activists.
On Tuesday, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) petitioned Chombo and local authorities, seeking the reversal of the ultimatum, failure of which they would seek legal recourse.
“Our lawyers have delivered the letter to Chombo and the councils. We are saying the move by government is a gross violation of human rights which we cannot tolerate,” said the organisation’s information officer, Kumbirai Mafunda.
In the petition, ZLHR condemns the abuse of security forces by government as unconstitutional.
The Human Rights NGO Forum, which represents several human rights organisations across the country, is also planning legal action against the government.
“We are currently in consultation with the vendors associations and those who will be affected by the demolition of houses, after they were settled there by land barons, to see how best we can approach this issue. We are ready to assist them to take legal action against the move by government. The government should not punish people for being poor. These people are victims of situations and they should be protected,” said Human Rights NGO Forum national chairman, Cousin Zilala.
Seeing an opportunity to rise from relative obscurity, opposition political parties have also condemned the plans to remove the people from the streets.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, condemned the move as unconstitutional while the spokesman of another MDC splinter organisation, MDC Renewal Team, Jacob Mafume, said his party “was prepared to stand with the vendors through all constitutionally available means”.
“We are speaking with our lawyers on the possibility of launching an urgent court interdict,” said Mafume in an interview with the Financial Gazette on Tuesday.
Although the country’s Urban Councils Act empowers local authorities to exact and enforce by-laws that prohibit illegal structures and activity in their areas of jurisdiction, the Zimbabwean scenario suggests that solutions to the country’s illegal vending problem go beyond brute-force law enforcement.
In 2005, President Robert Mugabe’s government attracted global scrutiny when it launched a crackdown on informal traders operating in city centres, a process that took away livelihoods of many. Many illegal structures, including homes around the country were destroyed under an operation code-named Murambatsvina or Operation Restore Order.
The United Nations habitat report estimated that the operation directly and indirectly affected 2,4 million citizens.
newsdesk@fingaz.co.zw

 

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 5
  • comment-avatar
    moyokumusha 7 years ago

    The only day things will change is when the CIO, police and army say ‘no, no more of your dirty work’ to the chefs, but that will not happen as they are all graduate green bombers who have been indoctrinated and become mere minions of the ‘chefus’.
    Heck,just look on the internet and you will see how the police instructors beat the recruits to teach them how to beat the povho.
    The vendors will have to be brave but the recent Dzamara abduction will intimidate them and so the terrorising will go on.
    Divine intervention is not helping either and so we will continue to suffer.

    • comment-avatar
      Tsuro 7 years ago

      Moyokumusha…I take it you are in diaspora and hence “moyokumusha”-“heart in Zimland” ki..ki..ki..ki..ki sorry hako..Zimbabwe will never be the same again..if there are rivers, hills, mountains and maybe animals in Zoos, where you are, better start enjoying them there my friend. Ghanaians, Nigerians etc left their countries during their Mugabe eras hoping to go back quick unfortunately they now have foreign in laws and mongrel grandchildren. Stay put and forget “kumusha” especially after 2013 Landslide

  • comment-avatar

    @Tsuro, stop running backwards. Look forward to 2018 kkkkkk

  • comment-avatar
    Common Sense 7 years ago

    The vendors are selling their goods right in front of registered shops, taking away business from the Government’s sources of income which is raised through taxes and import duty.Large scale operators are paying rates and rents and these small scale operators are operating outside the premises without paying any rentals.Everybody is selling everything there in front of shops which are well established and are supposed to contribute to the fiscus.I think it is the duty of the local authorities to know who is illegally doing that and where their shops or stores are supposed to be located. Those people who are doing it illegally should be the responsibility of the local authorities.The influx of street vendors into Harare’s city centre has resulted in congestion on the roads and pavements.Due to the huge unemployment and the total financial disaster Harare’s streets are full of beggars who call them selves street vendors. This is a total disgrace and these guys behave like savages. he same applies for the ridiculous omni bus operators. STONE AGE in Harare. Congratulations to the government.The vendors sell different wares at lower prices compared to those obtaining in retail shops because they do not have any obligations like paying tax and rentals.A disgrace nation of slaves and illegal crooks.We’ve workers without work, we’ve lost the sense of labour value and we lack a strategy to create wealth.Vendors sell everything you can imagine, from piles of tomatoes and sweet potatoes to long stalks of sugarcane to used clothes and shoes, all laid out by the roadside.Moyo, you have workers without work but you were instrumental in puting 500,000 farm workers out of work. You were instrumental in the closure of so many factories with your “Look East” policies, cheap imports of low quality placing factories that made quality products out of business. You have made Zimbabwe a consumer nation of beggars.

  • comment-avatar
    moyokumusha 7 years ago

    Well put common sense but the issue now is one of survival. Yes the retailers pay their rates taxes but if you have the right connections you are exempt just like ZESAGATE and this is where many of these people are coming from.
    I agree they are a nuisance when you go about your business but I also have sympathy with them and buy from them as I understand their need for survival and one cannot over look their efforts to achieve such.
    We have a two tier system which got us into this muddle and to fix it is not to oppress any longer, it is to reverse silly policies such as the land grab and indigenisation and to be fair to all citizens irrespective. Create an economy with jobs and you do away with survival.
    Looking east has done nothing but rape our country with empty promises.
    Chase the vendors away and there will be a rapid increase in crime and the prisons fill up and prisoners die of starvation, amnesty – vendors – crime and so the cycle will go on.
    Interesting to see today that Sekeramayi says the army will not be involved but does he really have control of them or the JOC. Maybe not in uniform but they will be there.