Stop recruiting more municipal police officers! Build more vending spaces

Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) wishes to express its dismay at Harare City Council plan to recruit 300 municipal police officers to enforce the eviction of vendors from the Central Business District (CBD) citing the distortion of the scenery in the CBD by the vendors, their obstruction of traffic and the public health threats they pose. At VISET, we believe this is not a very wise plan of spending public resources. Council would rather invest the resources in constructing more profitable designated vending sites. This would entail a peaceful and amicable confinement of vending to designated sites and thus ridding the city of illegal vending. Forcibly evicting vendors would not address the root cause of the proliferation of illegal vending in the CBD across the country, which is the shrinking of the formal labour market and its subsequent replacement by the informal labour market which is dominated by vending and the municipalities’ inability to adapt to this reality by incorporating this vital economic activity in its town planning.

Vendors are law abiding citizens who would not hesitate to take up spaces in profitable designated vending sites once the municipality avails them. Municipal police officers across the country are notorious for their flagrant violations of street vendors’ rights through arbitrarily arresting them, detaining them, prosecuting them, arbitrarily confiscating their wares without providing options for retrieval of the same and soliciting for bribes ranging from cash to kind from them. Vendors will thus perceive any plans to increase their numbers as a perpetuation of an already declared war on their livelihoods. Times are hard and trampling on people’s livelihoods during these difficult moments is not only barbaric but inhuman as well. Stop recruiting more police! Build more vending Spaces.

Source: Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET)