by ONAI MLAMBO and MARCUS MUSHONGA
HARARE, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWEAN citizens have hailed the removal of vendors mushrooming in the capital city Harare, as announced by President Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe announced last weekend his administration would embark on the campaign owing to the dilapidating situation in the town that was in past years been hailed as the Sunshine City for being one of the most orderly in the continent.
Its standards have extremely declined with the influx of vendors. Unregulated vending has partly been blamed for the outbreaks of some diseases such as cholera.
Several people interviewed by CAJ News in Harare praised the government for taking the bold decision, saying the move would give companies due opportunity to do business in an environmentally friendly space.
Many believe the government’s position would lead to the creation of more jobs by formal entrepreneurs than the current scenario where unregistered businesses and individuals were operating haphazardly without paying tax.
“For the first time since 2008, President Mugabe and his government came up with some practical solutions that would boost confidence. I congratulate the government for taking this step aimed at protecting existing businesses from vultures only interested in making profit without paying tax, said entrepreneur Robert-Darika Muchineripi of Houghton.
He however added, “I hope there is no sinister motive behind removing the illegal vendors from the CBD.”
Lucia-Tsvakai Chakoroma of Highfield said the move to drive out illegal vendors from the central business district (CBD) came as a sigh of relief to the capital city, which is also the most populous with 1,485 million people (2012). That represents a tenth of the Southern African country’s total population.
“For the first time, we are breathing fresh air in the capital,” said Chakoroma.
She said before the removal of the vendors, Harare had resembled Lagos, the Nigeria commercial city, as the vendors were putting their wares in every available space, including undesignated areas.
“I strongly believe sanity is returning to the country. Though I’m aware the move is being motivated by elections just by corner, I however give credit to President Mugabe for taking this long overdue position to restore order, peace and pride to our capital city.”
Chakoroma said the position taken in Harare should be implemented in other provincial capitals to restore dignity.
“I would like to urge the government to expand the exercise to other cities to ensure surviving businesses that pay tax are protected from illegal hawkers. I bet to the last cent, the issue of sanctions which the government always cried foul over would soon disappear and see thriving businesses due to implementing sound policies such as this,” Chakoroma argued.
Nyaradzai Mazhindu of Chitungwiza, said while vendors would feel suppressed short a short time, but long term results would benefit majority citizens.
“I can sympathise with majority unemployed Zimbabweans but in the near future, we shall see many benefiting out of this move. My prayers are however that this is not indented to protect interests of the few, particularly cronies’ business. Otherwise, I laud the move,” said Mazhindu.
However, some who were pushed out of the CBD accused the government of chasing out of the focal point where it was easier to do business without solutions for them.
National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe chairperson, Sten Zvorwadza, has appeared in court facing charges of insulting or undermining the authority of the President after he expressed opposition to government plans.
He said Mugabe was “daydreaming” for ordering the removal of vendors.
Chenjerai Muroyiwa of Sunningdale said the government could have relocated vendors to alternative places with facilities such as running water and mall facilities.
“Chasing us out of the CBD was a bit unfair of both the government and city of Harare,” Muroyiwa said.
He lamented vendors were a result of high unemployment estimated above 90 percent.
“The government is pushing its citizens to the corner. We know very well this decision was taken to counter majority voting for opposition parties,” Muroyiwa argued.
Ishamel Vudzijena of Warren Park D also said the decision would only benefit those connected to the regime while the poor would remain in trapped in poverty.
“We have been failed by rampant corruption of our government. Yet when we start self-sustaining businesses, we are being fought left, right and centre. This is declaration of war against citizens.”
Shuvai Mudarikwa of Matapi said: “The $15 billion dollars that disappeared without anyone accounting for it could resuscitate jobs for the entire nation, but the greedy government is busy looting and investing in other countries such as South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates while punishing the poor for the sins they never committed.”
– CAJ News