By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
The Joint Operation Command (JOC)’s ‘Operation Restore Order’ on Thursday was relatively resisted by vendors and pirate taxis in Harare’s CBD.
Early in the morning, trucks full of cops were already roaming the streets, water cannons were stationed along Nelson Mandela at MDC-T’s Headquarters Harvest House while some where at corner Julius Nyerere and Jason Moyo close to Town House.
Hundreds of riot and city council cops were seen milling around undesignated vending and pick up points advising vendors and touts to vacate the places. Uncharacteristic of the police and traffic cops were the less use of force which could have been the major reasons why there ‘was a cat and mouse affair’.
Vendors would resurface later to continue selling their wares despite the heavy presence of the police details but a few vendors are said to have been rounded up by police during the operation. The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) reported it had deployed lawyers to assist the few vendors who were arrested during the blitz.
Vendor Initiative for Socio-Economic Transformation (VISET) leader Samuel Wadzayi fled the city claiming that there was an orchestrated move by law enforcement agents to nab him.
The organisation has since released a statement condemning the ‘Operation Restore Order’ likening it to the infamous Murambatsvina.
“ The operation being implemented with brute force under the tagline “restore order” which is the same as the tag for Murambatsvina, is irrational, inhuman and barbaric apart from the fact that it runs contrary to the constitutional national objective which obliges the state and all its agencies to promote private initiatives of self-reliance and that which obliges it to remove the restrictions that prevent people from working,” states VISET.
VISET implored all municipalities in Zimbabwe to take full responsibility for its failure to provide adequate designated sites for the informal traders.
Yesterday’s blitz came after the Joint Operation Command sat to implement President Robert Mugabe’s directive that the city is restored to its sunshine city status by removing vendors selling on undesignated sites.
President Mugabe made the sickening remarks while addressing party youths at Zanu-PF headquarters early this week.