Police in Harare arrest 12 in street vendor clampdown

2015-07-09 14:35
File: AFP

File: AFP

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Harare - Truncheon-wielding police in the Zimbabwean capital Harare have arrested 12 vendors as city authorities enforce a ban on street traders, a lawyers' group said on Thursday.

At least one vendor is believed to have been injured in the clampdown.

"The municipal police launched a pre-dawn raid on [the vendors'] booths which are near the Rezende Street parkade," said Kumbirai Mafunda of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

"I think they tried to resist, that's why they could have been arrested," Mafunda said in a telephone interview.

Police on Wednesday pulled down vendors' tents and tables in the capital, a day after the new local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere vowed to act tough on the traders.

Kasukuwere, who was only appointed to his post in a cabinet reshuffle on Monday, told Thursday's Herald newspaper: "All we want is a clean environment where business is conducted freely".

'There are no jobs'

Kasukuwere posted a picture of himself on Twitter on Thursday morning having coffee with the mayor of Harare, Bernard Manyenyeni, who is a member of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

President Robert Mugabe's government sparked concern when it ordered all vendors to relocate to specially-designated trading areas by late last month. Many resisted, arguing that they needed to stay in the city centre where the business is.

The Zimbabwe Informal Sector Organisation, a prominent grouping of vendors, vowed on Thursday that its members would stay put. "Right now there are running battles. It’s not defiance, we want to define it correctly... There are no jobs," said Promise Mkwananzi, the group's director.

The Zimbabwe Informal Sector Organisation, a prominent grouping of vendors, vowed on Thursday that its members would stay put.

"Right now there are running battles. It’s not defiance, we want to define it correctly... There are no jobs," said Promise Mkwananzi, the group's director.

As Zimbabwe's economy constricts, thousands of people have taken to selling goods like vegetables, second-hand clothes and peanut butter, on the pavements.

Some of the vendors are unemployed, others are supplementing their income. Figures of the total number of vendors in Harare are difficult to gauge, but some estimates put the number as high as 20 000.

Read more on:    saviour kasukuwere  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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