HARARE – Harare City Council (HCC) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police yesterday implemented a high-handed blitz against vendors in the city centre targeted at removing all hawkers.
The blitz, which started off around the Market Square area, rounded up traders in the greater parts of downtown Harare.
Riot police used water cannon salvoes to scatter vendors.
Operation Restore Order was mooted after President Robert Mugabe told a youth gathering at the weekend that illegal vendors should be taken off the streets.
When the Daily News scanned the streets of Harare yesterday, there were no pushcarts in sight while the few brave vendors who were left behind had little wares.
Some vendors who spoke to the Daily News said even if the authorities removed them, they would be back as their market was in town.
“Even if they arrest us and confiscate our wares we will not be deterred. We cannot go to Coca-Cola Corner or Coventry Road because no one goes there. The people who buy from us are in the central business district (CBD),” one vendor who declined to be named said.
HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme said the city’s thrust is to ensure that all vendors comply with the directive to move to designated sites.
“We have managed to secure mobile toilets which we placed at all the designated sites. In some places like Coventry Road, where we anticipate a lot of traffic due to the kombis, we have placed an additional four ablution blocks for the traders’ and customers’ convenience,” he said.
Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (Viset) director Samuel Wadzai said until the alternative designated sites that council has established have been made conducive for business, traders will go there.
“The operation which is using the same tag line as Murambatsvina is irrational, inhuman and barbaric. Street vendors provide valuable services to the population while trying to earn livelihoods and it is the duty of the State to provide safety to the population as it earns a living.
“Forceful eviction of informal traders will not solve the current vending morass where such evictions do not correspond with the allocation of alternative spaces in the designated sites,” he said.