Desperate vendors arrested, to appear in court

    Harare – Police in Zimbabwe have arrested at least 79 vendors during a massive operation aimed at cleaning up the capital’s central business district since Thursday, police have confirmed.

    Faced with an ailing economy, inflation, cash shortages an youth unemployment nearing 98%, urban youths have been forced into informal vending in the streets of Harare.

    In September, a Khuluma Afrika investigation revealed how vendors in Zimbabwe now lived, slept, ate and worked in the streets of Harare.

    Several other youths have resorted to operating illegal shuttle services using unroadworthy vehicles, in a bid to survive.

    This has resulted in the once beautiful streets of Harare turning into one huge chaotic market place.

    It was reported early this week that the country’s President, Robert Mugabe had instructed police to remove all illegal vendors, whom he called an eyesore.

    The President fell short of blaming himself for the development of the situation however, despite overwhelming evidence that people do not vend in the streets for fun.

    While Zimbabwe does not have explicit laws banning vending, Police National Spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi confirmed yesterday that 79 people had been arrested, most of them for “obstructing free passage”, which is a contravention of Section 46 (2) (f) of the Third Schedule of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, Chapter 9:23, which criminalises encumbering or obstructing “the free passage along any street, road, thoroughfare, side walk or pavement”.

    “Seventy-nine illegal vendors have been arrested and there hasn’t been any incidences of violence,” he said.

    The vendors are expected to appear in court soon.

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