Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Harare municipality enlists anti-riot police to help flush out vendors

By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |

The Harare municipality is using anti-riot police deployments to raid alleged illegal vendors in central Harare, according to a statement by the National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (NAVUZ).

Riot police in Zimbabwe are viewed as an extension of the ruling Zanu PF party
Riot police in Zimbabwe are viewed as an extension of the ruling Zanu PF party

“We are deeply concerned over the continued abuse of desperate vendors in Harare as well as across the country.

“We have learnt with utter disbelief that the Harare municipality has engaged the services of the riot police who are assisting them during their raids on vendors in the Central Business District (CBD),” read the NAVUZ statement.

Western diplomats, human rights defenders and opposition political parties have condemned police brutality on citizens who have been protesting against President Robert Mugabe’s government.

They have used tear smoke, baton sticks, dogs and water cannons to disperse peaceful demonstrators.

“Given the brutality that has been shown by the riot police over the last months, we are convinced that the government, which is solely responsible for the economic meltdown in the country, has launched a warfare against innocent and unarmed vendors trying to make a living in a failed economy.

“NAVUZ has over the past days recorded several cases of abuse of vendors by riot police who have also taken these raids as an opportunity to loot goods from vendors as some of the confiscated goods were never recovered by their rightful owners,’ said the union.

Municipal police was last year engaged in running battles with the vendors as they tried to push them out of the city centre.

Harare City Council was overwhelmed by the ever-increasing number of hawkers who blame retrenchments and rising unemployment for their plight.

NAVUZ said government had given a deaf ear to their repeated requests to discuss Harare’s vending problem.

“Government has shown a complete disregard for citizens’ socio-economic rights and also its indifference to the plight of poverty stricken Zimbabweans through its move to turn brutal at a time the country is faced with an economic meltdown that is threatening the livelihoods of millions of Zimbabweans,” said the union.

“The move by the government to unleash riot police on vendors cannot go unchallenged and we will be intensifying our protests against the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the Harare Municipality.

We also call upon the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) as well as the Parliament of Zimbabwe to investigate the abuse of vendors by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP),” it added.

No comment could be obtained from the city council. Nehanda Radio