Traders question police raids

Informal traders working in Bulawayo’s residential? areas are up in arms with members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police who ?are constantly raiding their premises demanding shop and health ?licences.

As industries continue to close in the city, once touted? as the country’s industrial hub, informal trading has become? widespread. Traders are busy making shoes, repairing cellphones and offering services from typing to tailoring. They work in their homes to avoid the from high rents of city estate agencies.? But they say they are subjected to ?frequent raids on their homes by police who also demand bribes.

“These police raids normally happen on Fridays and? Saturdays. They ask us to produce a health or shop certificate.? How can I have a health certificate when I am self-employed and I am? just doing my tailoring business at my private flat?” said Loice Moyo,? a qualified tailor who was laid off in 2012.

Moyo said as well as officers from the Licence Inspectorate, ?other police departments had been raiding at odd hours demanding bribes.

Brown Banda, who chairs the organisation for small- and medium-sized businesses in the city, said members were tired of police harassment but had unsuccessfully tried to obtain licences.

“It is not that our members do not want to pay for the licences. Some ?of us have visited the city council several times seeking ?clarification over the issue. We? have lost a lot of revenue in bribes” said Banda.

The application to acquire a hawker’s licence costs $20 while the ?licence itself costs $120 a year.

Edward Manning, president of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Association, said his association had been inundated with reports? of police harassment.

“This is a very serious issue that we have taken up with both the? police and council. The truth is these people are willing to obtain ?the licence but the council has not been able to provide them,” said Manning.

He said his association had already engaged the Zimbabwe Lawyers? for Human Rights over the issue and had called a members’ meeting in ?September, to which Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo and senior representatives ?of the police had been invited.

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