The streets had been turned into a jungle by illegal street vendors. “The multi-purpose flea market will help bring sanity along the streets and pavements that had been invaded by desperate vendors who had no alternative vending sites,” said Mayor Farai Nyandoro.
The new flea market has been sited at the old vending complex demolished by the former Zanu (PF) government 2005 under the infamous Operation Murambatsvina. There was chaos following allocation of the stalls to more than 100 vendors, as some claimed that the exercise was carried out on partisan grounds.
“MDC supporters were discriminated against as the flea market project was identified as a Zanu (PF) empowerment scheme. A few lucky MDC vendors who were ‘mistakenly’ allocated market stalls were dumped away from customer passage-ways where their wares would not be visible. Vocal MDC activists like myself were completely denied access to stalls,” claimed a cell phone technician, Talkmore Chapendama.
“Council officials responsible for the allocation of market stalls told me in no uncertain terms that, my outstanding MDC political activism was not a passport to the flea market,” he added. Council employee and known Zanu (PF) official, identified only as Muyambo, swore that all vendors would be treated fairly without favour or political influence.
When The Zimbabwean visited the flea market over the weekend, both Zanu (PF) officials and MDC activists could be seen manning their stands, suggesting both parties benefitted from the project, albeit inequitably.
Accusations of political influence in the allocation of stalls resulted in pockets of disgruntled vendors staying put on the streets and fighting running battles with the municipal police.
Last week, a municipal police officer, Admire Takawira was allegedly attacked by vendors who resisted arrest.
“There were fears that should police continue harassing the few remaining vendors, a popular uprising of the Tunisian type would spark off any time,” said resident Mavis Vhuramayi.Post published in: News