Municipal Police torment vendors

Residents across Harare have been sending information to CHRA that Municipal police officers are harassing vendors, confiscating their goods. Residents report that this problem escalated during the campaigns towards the Presidential election runoff where entire vendors were also being forced to attend Zanu Pf rallies and meetings.

The current economic meltdown has seen an increased number of residents engaging in street vending as a means of earning a living for their families. CHRA notes with grave concern that some of the street vendors being raided and arrested are children whose ages range from between 10 to 15 years. 

It is painful to realize that the already poor vendors are losing their goods as a result of the numerous raids by municipal police. Such raids are frequent at Mbare Musika bus terminus, Ruzende, Market Square and 4th street but terminus as well as various other places in the residential suburbs. In Mabvuku-Tafara vendors have virtually abandoned vending as the spate of raids has escalated. A resident who spoke to CHRA Information Department accused the municipal police of raiding the vendors of their goods for personal purposes as those goods are never taken to Town House. Ironically, these are the same people who were in forefront of destroying vending sites during operation Murambatsvina in 2005. The Government and the City of Harare has done nothing to build alternative vending sites since then.  

The residents express their disappointment with the raids and call upon the new council to find a solution to this problem as a matter of urgency. Usually the municipal police officers carry out these raids in plain clothes, a development which has created space for criminals to raid the vendors of their goods.

A street vendor operating from 4th street alleged that some of the municipal police officers raiding them often demand money from the vendors so that they can be spared of the raids. The same vendor also accused the municipal police officers of heavy handedness as usually they carry out the raids armed with syjamboks, button sticks and hand cuffs. A member of CHRA secretariat recently witnessed an embarrassing act whereupon a municipal police officer forcibly handcuffed and hit a street vendor with a button stick.

The Combined Harare Residents Association urges the new city council to find a lasting solution to the problem, appreciating that the raids are not an option at all. The Association will soon be formally engaging the city council over the issue of street vendors and their harassment by the municipal police officers.

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