Vendors clear-out will haunt Mugabe

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The decision by President Robert Mugabe to have the police clear out vendors eking out a living in Harare’s streets illegally will likely open a can of worms.

While it is not a secret that vendors, who had taken up almost every open space, including pavements in the city centre, have made Harare’s central business district (CBD) an eyesore, one wonders if this was the best way to deal with the problem.

We are all aware that the majority of the population is now surviving on vending, and there has always been need to provide requisite infrastructure to ensure that the vendors carry out their business without violating city by-laws.

Vending in Zimbabwe has become common as a result of the deepening economic crisis reflected in the high unemployment rate.

This makes their arrest over the last two days sad. It’s almost like their fight for survival has been criminalised.

The challenge of the government is that it always has a knack of putting the cart before the horse.

A government that knows what it is doing would start by ensuring the availability of proper, adequate and serviced places from where the vendors can carry out their business. It is prudent to avail such spaces in strategic areas within the CBD.

Over the last two days, anti-riot police details have been patrolling the streets to make sure that the vendors would not resurface, but one can only wonder for how long will they be “stationed” in the street.

This points to the fact that this is not a viable strategy. All stakeholders need to sit down and strategise on the best way to accommodate the vendors and ensure that they create a win-win situation.

Mugabe cannot afford to have such a large portion of the population angry ahead of next year’s crucial elections. They must make this right as soon as possible.

It is not ironic that when Mugabe was challenged on his 2,2 million jobs election gimmick, he conveniently stated that the country had created millions of jobs in the informal sector which needed to be formlised.

Therefore, this action to violently remove vendors form their selling points exposes Mugabe’s double speak. We knew all along that he was speaking with a forked tongue. Now he must carry his own cross come elections.

Perhaps the action of removing vendors from their selling points is key to his removal from power. Mugabe and his party’s intransigence is nauseating as his actions are tantamount to destroying their livelihood.

10 COMMENTS

  1. perfecting the CBD in any city is not the solution-that is temporary. Creating the conditions for Industry, Business to start/grow will create the jobs for these educated “vendors”. Then the city centres will become desirable again

  2. This article supports the continued stay of vendors in the streets. The government’s move is a step in the right direction. If it means the police have to be there each day for several weeks then so be it. We demand clean streets. The absence of the promised jobs is no excuse to do wrong. Selling wares in illegal spots is doing wrong. Vendors should sell in designated spots. Buyers seeking cheaper stuff than that in formal shops will go there.

  3. Judging by the percentage of Christians in Zimbabwe; one would be excused to say they are Christians. Christians have Shepherds who are supposed to protect the sheep. As always, they are quiet and promising them prosperity; Is this prosperity? The True Church should play a role and defend the sheep.The Word of God says; “Speak up for those who can not speak for themselves; for the rights of all who are destitute; speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Prov 31:8,9).

  4. Church Leaders! Please plead the cause of the poor! The Bible says to the Church leaders; “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed; rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Ps 82:3,4)

  5. iwe ngulube which leader are u refering to if not u n me n every sane zimbabwean should stand up to this government itai dzamara was right

  6. mavendor shld go back to their maruzevha where they are coming from..who said everyone must be in town? Kutouya kuzotengesa matombo ekugezesa nemushonga wepabonde shuwa shuwa no mhani I would vote mugabe for chasing mavendor out of the towns

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