Harare - Riot police fired teargas to disperse street vendors as clashes erupted on the streets of the capital Harare late on Thursday afternoon, eyewitnesses said.
Clouds of teargas drifted through busy streets and some vendors were forced to abandon their bunches of green leafy vegetables, piles of tomatoes and other wares.
Business was brought to a halt in the CBD as riot police cleared people off the streets and shops were forced to close early.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project tweeted a short video clip from Harare’s First Street. In it, sirens and hooters can be heard blaring, then people scream and scurry for cover as tear gas is fired and a cloud from the smoking canister rises into the chilly evening air.
Watch the video below.
Some shop windows were allegedly smashed by vendors.
“Unconfirmed reports say that vendors are retaliating against police who earlier on tried to violently evict vendors,” online media organisation, @263Chat said in a tweet.
A vendors’ lobby, the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) condemned the police action as “barbaric and inhumane”.
“We believe as an organisation that the violence we saw today is aimed at silencing the vendors who continue to be victims of extortion at the hands of both the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Municipal Police,” it said in a statement. There was no immediate comment from police.
‘State v Street’
“It was The State v The Street in Harare today,” said MDC Secretary General Douglas Mwonzora.
“The people shall not be intimidated by the scare tactics of this despotic regime,” he wrote on Twitter.