Grace Mugabe drawn into vendors’ saga


First Lady Grace Mugabe’s name was drawn into the potentially explosive battle to rid Harare’s central business district of illegal vendors after some representatives of the informal traders argued she gave them the right to operate.


A few days after the government and security forces gave vendors a seven-day ultimatum to retreat to legal trading areas, the hawkers have split into distinct camps.

At a meeting organised by Harare City Council yesterday, the vendors were divided into pro-MDC-T and Zanu PF camps.

The rival organisations’ representatives almost came to blows at a meeting attended by Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni to chart the way forward as the Monday deadline to leave the streets draws near.

Some of the groups said they would not move out of the CBD because they had the blessing of the First Lady who during her “Meet The People” rallies last year urged authorities to leave vendors alone.

Grace berated the police for allegedly harassing vendors at the series of rallies that she held ahead of the Zanu PF congress last year.

Some of the groups yesterday said they were waiting for direction from “our mother” claiming the First Lady was their protector.

Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy’s Tendai Kokera said Grace said vendors should be protected from municipal police who were in the habit of confiscating their wares.

“Amai [Grace] said police should not take people’s goods. She said people should trade because companies had closed down. It is because she has the heart of a mother,” Kokera said.

However, Christine Taruwona, a Zanu PF central committee member and national secretary for business liaison and development in the youth league, claimed Grace was misquoted.

She said vendors should move out of the city centre to protect the image of the city and African Union chairman President Robert Mugabe who was hosting several international visitors.

“People are asking when Amai will come to help us because she is the one who allowed us in,” she said.

“That is not it. That actually is meant to tarnish the image of the First Lady, she never said that. She said people should go to designated sites and not everywhere. Let us be organised.”

One of the vendors, Memory Mbondiah, touched off a storm at the meeting when she said the Zanu PF government should provide at least a quarter of the jobs it promised ahead of the 2013 elections to avoid the chaos prevailing in the city.

Vendors’ leaders aligned to Zanu PF, including Taruwona, objected to the statement ordering her to sit down as she was delving into politics, threatening to beat her up.

Manyenyeni was at pains to restore order as verbal insults were thrown from one camp to another.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Informal Sector Organisation (Ziso) has written to Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, through its lawyers, Atherstone and Cook, urging him to withdraw the ultimatum to vendors, which it said was unconstitutional.

According to a legal analysis by Veritas, the order was questionable on several grounds.

Veritas said the function of the defence forces was to protect Zimbabwe, its people, national security and interests and its territorial integrity and to uphold the Constitution.

“According to section 213 (2): With the authority of the President, the defence forces may be deployed in Zimbabwe in defence of Zimbabwe, in support of the Police Service in the maintenance of public order; or in support of the Police Service and other civilian authorities in the event of an emergency or disaster,” Veritas said.

“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.”

Police yesterday deployed truckloads of armed officers at several flea markets fearing potential chaos as the ultimatum draws closer.

MDC-T secretary for security Giles Mutsekwa said the army should be professional and stop being used by “misguided politicians like Chombo” to fight unarmed civilians.

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) also criticised the directive, saying it was evil.

“The directive given by Chombo was diabolic as well as insensitive to the plight of vendors and is meant to destroy their livelihoods,” NCA said.


  1. As Zimbabweans we really need to look ahead and see if what is happening is right or wrong. Where are we going? The Vendor situation is bad lets accept, it is now difficult to walk in town. What are we getting from these Vendors at the end of the day, nothing. Are they paying tax. Let us think outside the box Zimbabweans. Vendors should be moved to designated place.

    • The vendors situation is not as easy as you think it is bro. It’s a very difficult decision for a person to opt to share the streets of Harare with speeding cars. This is a last resort. You think vendors are not bringing us anything but they really think they are doing something for themselves and they are right! We are talking about life and death issues here. You want space to “walk freely” and they want just a small space “to live”. You see. Government must take a holistic approach to this issue and seek to address the macro-economic issues that give fiscal breathing space. Most of these people have been vendors in Mbare and other high-density suburbs – they only came to the CBD for the “good market” characterized by high volumes of traffic and centrality. Is it not ironic that after ’empowering people’ with land and mining claims, we get more vendors as a result? Let’s blame it on sanctions, agaaain!!!!

    • All along i thought we have professionals in zimbabwe.Did the army say they are coming to fight unarmed civilians????.I never heard of such.With the influx of vendors we have now,the municipal police cannot control them because some of these vendors vanozviita ma “DIE HARD”.So in this case,panotoda back up ye zrp and army.simple.Those who dont want to go proper places will meet their fate.fullstop.Ko kuzotanga kurovana pachenyu???.you dont reason.

  2. We need to restore sanity one way or the other. The situation in the CBD can not be left to correct itself. Vendors please move to designated places as directed you will see the benefits in the long run.

    • Us vendors we are happy to be at CBD and we are willing to co-exist with our more established counterparts. They can move to the industrial area and leave us in town. We are willing to pay rent on vacated premises if they so wish.

  3. can we sacrifice pples livelihoods for free walking space?how can we legalise prostitution while criminising vending?most of these big wigs were raised thru vending.e.g philip they are denying others the same opportunity.i am not saying the condition in town if ok,but i am saying its too hot for cumfort.lets not pretend as if things are ok when they are not.what surprise me most is the silence of our prophets who are at the forefront of encouraging pple to use their hands.

    • who legalised prostitution davison? vending if not controlled will kill formal businesses and this will further strain the few who are working. they will be taxed to death. as a win-win situation vending should be allowed but only at disgnated places. How does a shop survive if a vendor is going to sit at its entrance and sell exactly the same goods as the shop? the vendor has no company tax, rentals, salaries to pay so at the end they (vendors) will contribute to the closure of that shop

  4. lets look at it zvisina tsvete kutengesa hakuna kuipa asi endaiwo pakatarwa kuti zvinhu zvirongeke. kwete kuti unowana mapanties aka waridzwa pamberi pechicken inn. how do u think innsocor feels. apa rikuburitsa mazakwatira kubhadhara licence kukanzuru. zvimwe onaio vehana. imi vekanzuro kwete kuzoitawo zvekuti vanhu vanofa nenzara vasisa tengerwe isaiwo vanhu pari convnty.

    • vanhu vaende kunzvimbo dzkatarwa dzirikupi ? pakatarwa pane vanhu nechekare. hurumende ngaigadzirise chaita musoro uteme. we realy need a holistic approach to fix the economy. Makamboinzwepi nyika inodeedza army kuzodzinga vanhu varikutsvaga kurarama nekuti pane arikuda kufamba free! vachombo vagere mushe saka nhamo inevanhu vezimbabwe havaioni. the next thing crime ichakwira zvakanyanya. where are the jobs which were promised

  5. “That is not it. That actually is meant to tarnish the image of the First Lady, she never said that. She said people should go to designated sites and not everywhere. Let us be organised.

    Big fat lie. The police never harrass vendors at designated sites so she was refering to those who operate anywhere. Grace should sort out her mess. She encouraged people to break the law.

  6. zanu should accept its bad policies. why zimabweans fail to hit the nail on the head. at present some would want to blame the council. is it the council. no not at all. this is a result of what mugabe i am saying mugabe not even his advisors has been doing the past 35 years. the problem with the zimbabweans we keep barking at the wrong tree. every time from 1980 when mugabe opened his month the economy will lose a percentage. we are seeing now the drying tree when the roots died a long time ago. every thing rises and fails on the leader. so for me its mugabe, mugabe, mugabe , mugabe, mugabe ………………………………………………………………all the way. nothing else nothing more. we are to scared to say this all the time and we continue to make him a saint. its so bad that even the pope accepts him as a holy leader when he is to tell him off like what John the Baptist of old did to the leaders of those day.

  7. One certain thing is we now must invest in security because as these vendors are chased they will look elsewhere for survival and it will be our homes, our pockets, our streets, thefts, burglaries, robberies are going to be the order of the day. As for the use of the name Grace, well what can we say, leaders have allowed their names to be abused when people do dirty things, I am zanupf to assault another person, I am from the president’s office, to kill someone, ask Mnangwgwa he send me, tatumwa na mai tipei donation, to loot, all those words have been said to show that these people have allowed their names to be used as intimidation and looting tools.

  8. “She said vendors should move out of the city centre to protect the image of the city and African Union chairman President Robert Mugabe who was hosting several international visitors.” so they can suffer to protect the image of one person, why cant that person protect the image of his people?

  9. Vendors’ leaders aligned to Zanu PF, including Taruwona, objected to the statement ordering her to sit down as she was delving into politics, threatening to beat her up. This is how zanupf handles disagreements, beating up others. Ngavadzingwe mutown mapenzi.

  10. Correct the economy and vending will go!!! I am educated because of good Gvt policy towards education although they failed to match that rate with job creation rate. Vending is not by choice but by economic circumstances. If possible, the Gvt should allow us to vend in the parliament and state house because thats were money is. Mabasa hatina imi mukutonga ndimi masara nawo. Will vend in those Barracks, Parliament, State House and Zimbabwe House nokuti ndokune mari yacho.

  11. Wotonzwa kuti chihure chobvumidzwa asi chi vendor chorambidzwa saka voda kuti ma vendor aite chihure zvavo..Igore rezvidzidzo rino

  12. years back we did no have such a problem,what forced people to the streets needs to be sorted outed first then then rest will follow suit.solve the root problem

  13. Mass Vending is an instinct way of civil protests against economic catastrophe that has befallen to Zimbabwe.Politics of the stomach. At this rate by 2018 vendors will close off all the streets and leave avenues and roads for cars.

  14. zanu pf said it will provide 2million jobs, and through vending, it has created not only 2 million jobs but 6 million jobs as we hear that these vendors number 6 million. so whats all this fuss about? by the way, are you not the same people who are telling us thru your Finance minister chinamasa that zim economy is now domiciled in the informal sector with more than 10 billion dollars circulating there? regerai vanhu vaite basa, musaite zindakupa zindakutorera

  15. it started with newspapers,then airtime then folding of cardboxes into sitting chairs then rat poison satchels on a concrete slab,then gloves,socks and then come pirated DVDs on raised boxes and phone accessories in the name of empowering the disabled and now everyone else is doing it everywhere,fresh vegetables started in front of butcheries along chinhoyi street then to every other butchery in town now it is everywhere,including the once loved first if vendors are not moved to designated places what elsewhere are they going to do becasuse vakutotanga kugocha chibage mu

  16. Wongorora chikonzero chaita musoro uteme. Government did well to educate the people and by so they are not as hot headed as people from other nations. When the going gets tough Zimbabweans are known to make a plan but not a stand for it. They dont take machete and pangas and go on the streets like the South africans . Zimbabweans take the little they have and start kamusika to make a living. Whilst the people responsible for making it this tough are living large and eating kings meals in their castles on the other side of Samora Machel Strt. U want these people off the streets?.its simple revive the industries where they used to be gainfully employed and they would be happy to return there & put to use the knowledge obtained from 4 hard years at the university or mastandard 6 achoni. . Musika papavement muCBDis a No No but lets have heart toitao ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS sevanhu vakafunda. This should be abt a nation not a few indivuduals who are previledging themselves at the expense of others. #Ndikoko

  17. the problem in Zimbabwe is not the people but the politicians who are confused hungry to rule the dieing populace. they dont have people at heart and they fail to fulfill their promises. they let the cancer grow without addressing the problem at its premature stage. Vendors like illegal structures in Chitungwiza Epworth and Mabvuku did not grow one day like mushroom but they take time. My question then is that where was Chombo and Zanu_PF the President himself the Chief Executive for these Municipalities and Cities why did they let people take all the streets in vending activities yet they know its illegal these politicians have failed to let the managers manage they always want to be everywhere look now people are quoting some sweeping statements from her Excellence which can in some cases portray their defense where is she now. That’s why i don’t vote Zimbabweans we are being used with these people they don’t like us they want only your votes so that they continue to oppress us

  18. Cat and mouse games of vendors with army and police on the way. Mr President Sir you will have to request deployment of a SADC or Africa Union force to force vendors off the streets of all towns and cities in Zimbabwe. I am sure the ZDF will resort to bombing the poor vendors using choppers..if at all they still have any. ZNA is a small army of disgruntled soldiers they will ignore commands and look the other way and let people trade. The f%$£ng bosses are too fat to even make it to the street to inspect…imagine Chombo and company walking street to street to verify that vendors have vacated the streets. Viva vendors in the streets pasi naChombo mboko yemunhu!!!

  19. vanhu weee itai zvine order endai panodiwa munyatsotora mari asi iyo hurumende ngaitsvagire vanhu mabasa avakati vachatipa paye nekuty zvikarega kudaro saka vaichema

  20. Kufamba mutown : Ukagumburwa nedomasi unodonhera pamabanana, woumburukira pamabutternut ukaita lucky unomukira muhembe dzemubhero, ukaita munyama unopinda muchoto chekugochera chibage.

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