Harassment of vendors on the rise in Harare

It is unfortunate that the new Government of Zimbabwe has refused to take heed to calls by the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) and other like-minded organizations to cease the harassment and violent eviction vendors and informal traders operating in Harare’s Central Business District (CBD) and other towns and cities including Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo. We have gathered that all the municipalities of the cities and towns mentioned above are implementing directives from the Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Local Government to effect the evictions and have commenced the same as of the 2nd of January 2018. What is even more worrying is that the evictions are chaotic, violent and does not take into consideration human dignity. In a series of protracted engagement efforts with the Harare City Council, Masvingo City Council and the Ministry of Local Government, VISET has repeatedly advocated for the suspension of the evictions pending due process which involves identification of profitable and convenient vending sites

Harare CBD area is a hub of approximately 20 000 vendors and such an eviction will have a disproportionate negative impact on the livelihoods of such a large number of vendors and their dependents. VISET has made it clear to the Harare City Council that there is need to strike a balance between their mandate to maintain public health and the need of vendors to earn livelihoods. The right to carry on trade or business is provided for under Section 64 of the Constitution which provides for the right to freedom of choice and practice of a trade or profession. 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 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 livelihoods. Street vendors provide valuable services to the urban population while trying to earn a livelihood and it is the duty of the State to protect the right of this segment of population to earn their livelihood. VISET will continue to mobilize its Socio-Economic Champions (SOCHAMPS) in Harare and other towns and cities so that they resist the grisly attack on livelihoods by the City fathers. In the same spirit, the organization has successfully deployed its Informal Sector Corruption Tracking Teams so that they detect, document, report and resist any form of corruption during this period.

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