Chimene, State security agents threaten vendors

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Mandiitawepi Chimene

Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene took to the streets of Mutare on Wednesday with senior army officials and Central Intelligence Organisation officers in a move seen as a tactic to intimidate illegal vendors into moving out of the streets, as ordered by government.

BY KENNETH NYANGANI/ALOIS VINGA

Chimene was flanked by commander of Three Brigade in Mutare Colonel Lazarus Gutu, District police officer Winstone Muza and senior CIO officers.

A few days after the government and security forces gave vendors an ultimatum to retreat to designated trading areas, Chimene told vendors to move out from the streets as Mutare City Council was going to offer them designated places to sell their wares.

The move was, however, not taken lightly with vendors saying the fact that Chimene was in the company of senior army officials and other security chiefs it was a way of threatening them.

Mutare mayor Tatenda Nhamarare yesterday said while council would comply with the government directive, city fathers were against the use of outside forces. He said council had already started engaging vendors’ associations.

“City of Mutare will comply with the government directive and ultimatum, however, we are against the idea of just chasing away the vendors from the streets, but we have to persuade them to go to designated places without using external forces,” Nhemarare said.

a woman sells her wares at an undesignated point in the central business which has become the norm in Harare where vendors are selling in pavements and in front of shops.AU

“We have already started consultations with the vendors representatives in the city for them to go designated places we are to find for them so there is no need to use external force and the good thing is that some of them have okayed the move.”

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA) an arm of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), will tonight hold a vendors’ all-night prayer in Harare to plead for God’s mercy in the wake of the impending evictions of all informal traders operating from undesignated sites.

Briefing journalists in Harare, ZCIEA secretary-general Wisborn Malaya said the organisation was now seeking divine intervention to avert the evictions.

“The Creator whose intelligence can never be superseded by human ability should intervene on behalf of vendors and the rest of Zimbabweans who have suffered mercilessly at the hands of an inconsiderate political leadership. We hope that God will give a solution to His people,’’ Malaya said.

He urged Local Government minister, Ignatius Chombo to protect desperate vendors who were in the trade because of the harsh economic environment prevailing in the country.

‘’As an organisation which represents the informal workers we are worried about the gross violation of human rights by the government on gaining political mileage at the expense of the suffering masses issuing through threats that the army and police will be used to forcibly remove defenceless citizens from the streets,’’ Malaya said.

“The move is in direct contradiction of the International Labour Organisation Conference currently in session which is urging governments the world over to transform the informal economy activities into formalised trade.’’

Meanwhile, the ZCTU said the planned evictions were unreasonable.

Acting secretary-general Enock Mahari said: “The ZCTU views the threat to use military force against unarmed innocent vendors as a sign of a guilty government afraid of its own people after failing to deliver the promised 2,2 million jobs. The government must stop using vendors as a scapegoat to evade accountability on political promises.’’

Mahari said the issue of vendors was a key indicator of government failure and removing them from the streets was a “tactless cover-up.”

“The government is burying its head in the sand and reacting to the symptoms of its failure instead of addressing the root causes,” he said. “The global trend is focused on formalising the informal economy, but our government is sending informal traders into the desert.”