Mugabe govt gives vendors more time

2015-06-07 15:13
(Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, AP)

(Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, AP)

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Harare - President Robert Mugabe's government has pushed back an unpopular Monday deadline for thousands of vendors to vacate the streets of Harare and other towns as it readies for crunch by-elections this week.

The vendors now have until June 26 to move to designated trading sites, according to an official announcement this weekend.

Last week, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo gave the vendors - whose numbers have soared in recent months in the wake of growing economic problems - until Monday to move off the streets.

The authorities now say that soldiers won't be involved in clearing the vendors from the streets, even though a brigadier-general appeared on state TV last week to issue a warning to them.

The threat has brought back memories of the devastating Operation "Drive Out Trash" slum clearances of 2005, when up to 700 000 people lost their homes and livelihoods.

Mugabe's Zanu-PF party meantime says it is "confident" of winning all 16 seats in parliamentary by-elections, mostly in Harare and Bulawayo, due this Wednesday.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change is boycotting the polls due to a lack of electoral reforms.

A hastily-formed coalition of independent candidates in 10 of the constituencies has little real chance of success, analysts say.

"They [MDC-T] dug their own grave, we will not go to their funeral," party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo told the state-controlled Sunday Mail.

Rights lawyers have filed a court application to try to stop Chombo, Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi and the mayor of Harare Bernard Manyenyeni from "threatening" the traders, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights spokesperson Kumbirai Mafunda said on Facebook.

Pavement traders say they want to be where the business is and that is why they are shunning vending sites far away from shopping areas.

There are also threats to demolish "thousands" of houses in Harare within the next two months, according to state media on Sunday. The houses are understood to have been built without official approval.

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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