Tuesday, 14 July 2015

More vendors arrested again.

Fifteen vendors, among them leaders of a union linked to the MDC-T which has been inciting others to resist relocation to designated council sites, were arrested yesterday for assaulting Harare municipal police.

National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (NAVUZ) chairman, Mr Stan Zvorwadza and director Mr Samuel Wadzai, were arrested together with 13 others when they besieged Town House after municipal police confiscated illegal vendors’ wares around the central business district.

Mr Zvorwadza is a losing candidate in the MDC-T primaries for Mbare in the 2013 harmonised elections.

MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai is on record urging illegal vendors to continue their lawless activities and disregard calls for them to leave the streets.
Vendors stage a demonstration at Town House in Harare yesterday, while (inset) municipal police officers arrest leaders of the demon
The illegal vendors’ arrest came as Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said yesterday Zanu-PF would not be blackmailed by illegal vendors who threatened not to vote for the ruling party in 2018.

Minister Kasukuwere was speaking at a meeting with Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni and Harare City Council officials at Town House.

The ministers, together with the city officials, later held a tour of a designated vending site at Coventry Road’s holding bay.

The illegal vendors aligned to MDC-T stormed Town House demanding their confiscated goods, resulting in a clash with municipal police which saw some of them being apprehended for fuelling violent behaviour.

Municipal police seized goods from illegal vendors along Robert Mugabe Way, First Street and other parts of the CBD.

There was drama as some of the illegal vendors threw themselves in front of a moving council vehicle ferrying those arrested to Harare Central Police Station.

“You take our goods, where do you think we will get money to fend for our families?” shouted some of the angry vendors.

The city’s principal communications officer Mr Michael Chideme denied that the illegal vendors were assaulted, but said they were restrained from assaulting city officials.

“The municipal police did not assault anyone, it is members of the informal sector who ransacked Town House,” he said. “They were baying for the blood of the city officials for confiscating their goods in the city centre.

“We do not accept people who come to Town House to cause chaos. The goods were confiscated legally as a deterrent measure.”

Mr Chideme said the illegal vendors should report any council officer who demanded bribes.

On his maiden visit to Town House while accompanied by Minister Nyoni, Minister Kasukuwere said Government wanted order in Harare.

“We must have order in society and we want to see things working well,” he said. “Don’t do wrong things by threatening Zanu-PF and the city fathers, but instead vendors must be working well with council. I do not think we must be blackmailed by anybody who says ‘I sell (from) wherever (I want), if I bring fish from Mukuvisi and I sell at OK then I will vote for you’. We do not want that blackmail vote.”

Minister Kasukuwere said Harare City Council officials had progressed well in preparing the vending sites and had also set aside sites for informal sectors and urged them to speed up the process.

Minister Nyoni said she met with illegal vendors’ organisations recently and it emerged that there were people known as “space barons” selling illegal trading sites to vendors.

“My ministry is working with genuine SMEs. People that will be working with the ministry must be well vetted,” she said. “We are going to work with council to encourage people to produce rather than become a country of second hand clothes from other countries.”

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights spokesperson Mr Kumbirai Mafunda confirmed the arrest of the 15 vendors, while Harare acting police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Simon Chazovachiyi confirmed only that of Mr Wadzai for public violence.

Last week, 26 vendors were arrested and three of them have been remanded in custody, while the others paid fines and were released.
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