Government sued for demolishing spaza shops

Government sued for demolishing spaza shops

HARARE, (CAJ News) INFORMAL traders and residents in Zimbabwe have taken the government to court challenging the demolition of their vending stalls and tuckshops across the country.

They have approached the High Court arguing property belonging to or used by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and informal traders by local and central government personnel was unlawful and should be stopped immediately.

The demolitions follow a cabinet resolution instructing urban authorities take advantage of the national lockdown to clean up and renovate SMEs’ and informal traders’ work spaces.

But affected vendors and businesses believe this is a ploy by the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to push them out of markets.

The vendors and law enforcement agents have in recent years run battles in Zimbabwean towns amid a rise in informal trade in the impoverished country.

High unemployment levels, estimated at more than 90 percent, are blamed for a flurry of street vending.

Authorities argue this has fuelled crime and is a health hazard in a country that has not been spared the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Informal traders and residents argued that the demolition of tuckshops and vending stalls by local authorities amounted to deprivation of property, in violation of the right to property enshrined in the constitution.

They have also decried lack of consultation by authorities.

Furthermore, aggrieved traders have bemoaned that city employees deployed to carry out the demolitions were not wearing protective equipment, which fuelled the risk of the spread of COOVID-19.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is representing informal traders and residents.

– CAJ News

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