Chaos as Gweru vendors, police clash

THERE was chaos in Gweru central business district yesterday as vendors and riot police clashed after government ordered illegal traders to vacate undesignated sites to curb the spread of typhoid.

BY STEPHEN CHADENGA

Police had to fire teargas to disperse the informal traders, who were pelting the law enforcement agents with stones.

Last week, Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Owen Ncube said his office had written to the Joint Operations Command (JOC) chairperson to assist the municipal police in evicting vendors operating from undesignated areas that have no ablution or adequate waste disposal facilities.

“We can’t have people dying [of typhoid] because of vending. Yes, there is need to engage them [vendors], but we are faced with a crisis and there is need to be a bit hard on them. We have to remove the vendors from the streets until the disease in contained,” Ncube said last week.

The streets resembled a battle front as vendors, trading outside major retail outlets, engaged in running battles with riot police.

“We have no option, but to fight back as we have nowhere to go to eke out a living,” one vendor, who identified himself as Moyo, said.

“The minister (Ncube) cannot just order us off the streets as if we have an option. This is a matter of survival. The economy is bad and we are trying to make a living.”

Another vendor, who identified himself as Solomon, said council and government were blaming vendors for the typhoid outbreak, which has so far claimed seven lives, saying this was just a scapegoat for failed service delivery.

He said the water-borne disease started in parts of Mkoba suburbs as a result of people drinking contaminated water, yet the “blame was now centred on vendors”.

Gweru Hawkers and Vendors’ Association acting chairperson Lovemore Tingaka said there was need for dialogue among all stakeholders in addressing the problem of vending.


Provincial police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Ethel Mukwende could not be reached for comment.

To date, 1 313 typhoid cases and seven deaths have been recorded in the Midlands capital.

Gweru City Council, which is failing to contain the water-borne disease, is struggling to provide potable water to residents as a result of ageing equipment, incessant power interruptions at its reservoirs and a mounting debt.

2 Comments

  1. Zanu is to blame.

  2. The very same vendors led by your leadership gathered in Harare to pledge to vote for ED. It seems you had forgot that you are in the streets because of the very same Zanu pf that has run down the economy. Now you are complaining as you being chased away from the streets. Let it be a lesson to you not to be easily hoodwinked and sweettalked by politicians who since 1980 have a history of failing to deliver on their promises. It is sad because Zimbos continue to fall for the same trick always-you voted for Zanu pf and now they are treating you like dirt. Instead of the governing party to accept responsibility of the spread of typhoid they are busy beating you up. Wake up and smell the coffee. The fact now is that Zanu pf will always trick you so as to remain in power but they will never deliver on all promises they make, and as always they will point a finger of blame at someone else and this time the people to blame are you vendors-brace for a torrid time.

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