Harassment could spark civil unrest, Zim vendors warn

2015-07-16 17:05

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Cape Town – A Zimbabwean union of vendors has reportedly warned that the continued harassment of its members by municipal police could spark civil unrest in the southern African country.

This follows weeks of protests by vendors in Harare against plans by city authorities to drive them off pavements, where increasing numbers of the unemployed are trying to make a living.  

Municipal police have, according to reports, been on the warpath, allegedly beating up vendors  who refuse to move to designated sites.

More than 40 people have so far been arrested.

The deteriorating economic situation in Zimbabwe has forced many companies to shut down, leaving many with no option but to turn to petty trading on the streets.

People's livelihoods

According to New Zimbabwe.com the National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (NAVUZ) said its members would continue to operate in the streets despite being victimised by council police.

NAVUZ vice chairperson, Douglas Shumbayaonda was quoted as saying: "This is an issue of survival and the vendors will keep coming back to the streets even if you [council police] evict them. However, the continued harassment of the vendors can throw the country into civil strife."

Shumbayaonda said it was not practical for the city fathers to prioritise a clean city over people’s livelihoods.

The vendors last week turned their anger on President Robert Mugabe's government by threatening to sabotage it in the 2018 general elections.

But according to a NewsDay report, Zanu-PF national commissar and Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere hit back at them, saying his party "did not thrive on chaos and would not be blackmailed or intimidated".

Kasukuwere said the Zanu-PF government was doing all it could to ensure there was no chaos in Harare, vowing the ruling party would not accept "blackmail votes", the report said.

Read more on:    zanu-pf  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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