Harare Demolitions: Demon Of Destruction Is Back!
14 June 2021

Destruction of vending sites: Zimbabwe Government’s demon of destruction is back!

By Elijah Mutemeri

Let me start by saying I am not surprised with the current wave of demolition of informal economy structures in Harare and Chitungwiza. We all know that it is a political move by the Zanu PF government. For me the question is not about whether it is illegal or legal to sell in the street.

During the Ian Smith regime it was always our cry and concern to say why are black people being pushed out of town to do their businesses? We were all agreed at that time that the by-laws of Rhodesia were against blacks. However, the same by-laws were not changed when we got our independence and up to this date because they promote the big fish businesses.

It is not that this country is running short of land to give to the people to do their business. We have land barons around not only the city, even in the farms. Everyone knows that there are no jobs in Zimbabwe but still families have to survive and sent their children to school. There is no doubt that we are dealing with leaders who are heartless. What worries me is that after every demolition that has taken place, the same spaces have been later parcelled out to Zanu PF youths.

Government and the city councils should and must give space to all vendors in and around the city without any discrimination. Vending is not only happening in Zimbabwe, even in Europe it is there and the only difference is that all other countries respects their citizenry.

Zambia as an example is one of the best country in dealing with vendors. The Government of Zambia believe that all people are same no matter what political party you support. In this country if you do not support the ruling party you are not a Zimbabwean. As this demolition is taking place there are some areas which are not going to be touched which belong to the ruling Zanu PF party.

The Zimbabwe government is surely possessed by the demon of destruction and this is the time for vendors to act. If they do not, they will always suffer. If the government was sincere with land allocation everyone was going to get space.

Vendors do not want a hectare for one individual, they need a space enough to put their wares and sell.

The City of Harare is also under tremendous instruction to destroy these stalls. Our councillors are powerless. Those appointed to run the affairs in Harare City Council or any other council have power to do what they want.

I bet for sure that after this destruction and as we move towards 2023 elections and campaign time, political correct vendors will be allocated the same sites to do their business and the blame will be shifted councillors. As I said, it is a political game. Zimbabweans let us open our eyes!

• Elijah Mutemeri is the project coordinator for the Informal Sector desk in the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)