Zanu PF demands $2 protection fees from vendors


ZANU PF’s controversial Bulawayo district youth league leader Magura Charumbira has ordered informal traders to pay $2 protection fees to the ruling party to avoid being harassed by municipal police during the ongoing blitz against illegal vendors.


The blitz on vendors was recently ordered by President Robert Mugabe, who accused informal traders of messing up the cities.

On Tuesday, Charumbira, who faces expulsion from Zanu PF on allegations of unruly behaviour, told the ruling party-affiliated vendors that they would be spared if they pay $2 each as protection fee.

“As the chairperson of Zanu PF Bulawayo district, I would like to assure you that no one will harass you and impound your wares,” he said.

“There is no office in this country which I am afraid of and I rest assure you that no one is going to harass you, but we need to pay $2 protection fees.”

He was addressing informal traders who belong to the ruling party at a city hotel on Tuesday.

Bulawayo City Council has defended the blitz against illegal street vendors as necessary to restore sanity and order, but Charumbira condemned the raids as unwarranted.

However, Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial chairperson Dennis Ndlovu said it was illegal for party members to demand protection fees from vendors.

“I do not want to start any wars with Charumbira, but as a province, we do not have such a programme (demanding protection fees). I also do not know how the vendors operate and so forth on such issues,” he said.

The raids have also been widely condemned by vendor associations, human rights groups and opposition parties.

“We would like to point out that these innocent citizens, who are today termed as ‘garbage’ and are accused of sabotaging the economy by operating in the informal sector, are victims of an economic abyss that was brought forth by an inept and corrupt government fronted by President Mugabe himself,” MDC deputy national spokesperson Mbuso Siso said.

“Statistically, the unemployment rate is currently at 95% and it becomes inevitable for people to turn into indiscriminate vending and other informal activities for survival means, hence, for the government to use forceful means as a way of addressing the growth of the parallel economy without creating jobs and viable business opportunities is absurd.”

The Bulawayo Vendors and Traders’ Association and Streetwise Informal Traders’ Association have also condemned government’s crackdown against vendors as an affront to the Constitution, adding it will only spike the crime and prostitution rates.


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