Vendors cry foul over Zanu PF’s million-man march

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HARARE – Vendors were on Wednesday left counting their losses as Zanu PF shut down their market places so as to frogmarch them to the so-called one million-man march, which failed to live to its billing.

In a statement National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) said the President Robert Mugabe’s regime, that is presiding over a collapsed economy — with over 80 percent of the people trapped in the informal sector, has now demonstrated beyond any doubt that it is insensitive to the plight of the poor.

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“We are concerned that in violation of their constitutional rights, vendors were forced to leave their businesses and attend the Zanu PF event which was held as a show of solidarity with the party’s leader…Mugabe,” read part of the statement.

Traditionally, Mugabe’s supporters force people to the governing party’s programmes — but this week was worse as Zanu PF tried to push up numbers of attendants to the event.

“As a result of the forced attendance, many vendors were left counting their losses after they had been forced to close shop and attend the million-man march.

“As Navuz, we implore the ruling party to uphold citizens’ constitutional right to freedom of assembly and association as defined under Section 58 (2) of the country’s Constitution which stipulates that “No person may be compelled to belong to an association or to attend a meeting or gathering.”

According to Navuz, vendors who refused to attend the million-man march were intimidated and now risk losing their market stalls.

“Navuz is disturbed over the continued manipulation of vendors who are often forced to attend Zanu PF events or face eviction from their selling places in the event that they defy the order from the . . .  party.

“We are also concerned over the intimidation of some vendors who defied the order to attend the million-man march.

“To us as Navuz, the continued manipulation and victimisation of vendors by the ruling party reveals nothing but the indifference of those in the echelons of power to the plight of suffering Zimbabweans seeking to eke a living out of vending at a time unemployment is estimated at over 90 percent due to a failing economy.”

Apart from having to content with victimisation from the governing party coercive elements, vendors are daily engaged in running battles with municipal police officers.

“We are concerned that on a daily basis, vendors are victimised by municipal cops and government officials continue to declare war on vending yet when it comes to political events, the same government manipulates the desperate vendors to boost attendance at political events.

“As Navuz, we shall continue to fight for the formalisation of the informal sector and we shall continue engaging the government so that victimisation of vendors and the confiscation of their goods is stopped forthwith,” read the statement.

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