By Watmore Makokoba
Recent utterances by President Robert Mugabe calling for a clean out on informal traders who sell their wares in the Central Business District (CBD) have been described as both inhuman and barbaric.
Vendors’ representatives and human rights defenders came out guns blazing against the pronouncement made by President Mugabe while he was addressing members of the Zanu-PF Youth League National Assembly recently at the party’s Headquarters in Harare.
Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) said it condemns in strongest terms the intended move by the President to have vendors removed or forbidden from trading their wares in the (CBD), reminding the president that he should realize that vendors where a result of government bad economic policies.
“President Mugabe’s words were he was calling for the removal of what he christened as “illegal vendors” from the CBD of Harare is irrational and barbaric, it is contrary to the constitutional national objectives, for the Head of State to issue such a statement without offering an alternative solution demonstrates how he has lost touch with reality,
“The constitution of Zimbabwe obliges the State and all its agencies to promote private initiatives of self-reliance and such restrictions contrary prevent people from working or otherwise engaging in gainful economic activities” reads a statement from VISET.
VISET vowed that vendors were not going anywhere anytime soon.
“As a reminder to the current President, we are in the streets not because we want but your administration’s machiavellian macroeconomic policies have brought us to this stage. There is nothing illegal about vending because you created it Mr President. In the same token, if vending is illegal then your continued occupancy of the office of President of Zimbabwe is both illegal and a joke,
We refer you to the constitution of Zimbabwe Section 64 which provides for the right to freedom of choice and practice of a trade or profession. Furthermore, Section 24 of the Constitution provides for the national objective of removing restrictions that inhibit people from working or otherwise engaging in gainful economic activities. Section 13 of the constitution obliges the government, which you purport to lead, to promote private initiatives and self-reliance, the right to human dignity, right to food and right to life can all not be realized if people are denied opportunities to earn a living”, the statement further stated.
Director for Zimbabwe Women in Politics Alliance (ZWIPA), human rights defender Linda Tsungirirai Masarira concurred saying the crippling economy had pushed a lot of once middle class into vending to supplement their meagre erratic salaries.
“These utterances coming from the head of state fuels the calls for some introspection on the part of the system that has reduced everyone into vending, vendors need jobs, where are the 2.2m jobs Zanu-PF has been singing about since they launched ZimAsset?
Government should embark on a deliberate re-industrialization program for Zimbabwe to create the much-needed jobs”, she said.
Since the launch of the onslaught on informal traders code-named Operation Restore Order in the Cities by government and local authorities, vendor representative bodies have maintained that Harare City Council (HCC) needs to take full responsibility for its failure to provide adequate designated sites for these traders and that forceful eviction of informal traders will not solve the current vending morass.